City Manager Jay Ash said that despite his disappointment with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s (MGC) decision to award the casino license to Wynn Resorts over Mohegan Sun, he’s ready to work with Wynn and take a second look at their project and how it will affect Chelsea.
Ash and Chelsea officials were decidedly in favor of the Mohegan project, mostly because Mohegan had signed a much more lucrative Surrounding Community Agreement (SCA) with Chelsea than did Wynn. Also, officials repeatedly said Mohegan had been much easier to work with than the Wynn negotiators.
All of that if in the past now, though, and Ash said he’s ready to move forward.
“In terms of Wynn, I’m willing to take a new look at their project,” he said. “I don’t believe we’ve seen the last iteration. There are some flaws, most notably around traffic issues, that need to be resolved, and I know they are working to address them. I’m open to looking at what they come up with and especially see how it impacts Chelsea and the region as a whole. There are many benefits of having 4,000 jobs and $1.6 billion in investment less than a mile from our borders. I’m planning on continuing to work on this and hope to line Chelsea up for more benefits if and when the resort casino there does open.”
Ash also said he does plan to support a ‘No’ vote on Question 3 in the November ballot – a vote that would be for keeping the casino legislation and the Wynn project. He said that despite being frustrated with the decision for Wynn, he isn’t backtracking on the gaming industry.
“I’m disappointed with the Gaming Commission decision, but that doesn’t change the fundamental reasons why I support expanded gaming here in Massachusetts,” he said. “We’re exporting more than $1 billion in investment, tens-of-thousands-of-jobs, and $400 million in tax revenues to Connecticut and Rhode Island, and not getting anything in return. We should keep that investment, those jobs and that tax revenue here, and we should enter into what is a $50 billion industry in the country. In Boston alone, there are 20 million visitors a year. Developing out resort casinos will strengthen our tourism and hospitality industries and further broaden our economy so we are not susceptible to major downturns…In short, I think we export too much and have little to show for it, and I believe we can create an industry here that can manage the potential downside while given us additional economic and entertainment benefits.”
After mostly staying out of the casino repeal vote discussion, Wynn Resorts announced last weekend that they would become involved in the ‘No on 3’ campaign over the next month.
When the casino company won their license on Sept. 16, officials from Wynn said they hadn’t made a decision, but as a rule their organization tended to stay out of ballot box issues.
Last weekend, they changed their tune and decided to defend the coveted license they just won last month.
“We will participate with Protect Mass Jobs to provide information to voters about the impact of our industry,” said Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver. “Ultimately and appropriately, the voters of the Commonwealth will decide. They deserve to have factual information which will allow them to make an informed decision.”
Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria said he applauded Wynn for deciding to get involved in the ballot question because the question is confusing to voters.
“I think it’s absolutely necessary for everyone to get involved so people know exactly what they’re voting on,” he said. “There are people who want casinos and think they have to vote ‘yes,’ but a ‘yes’ vote is against casinos. I applaud Wynn for getting involved and I think they need to be out there to set the record straight on many facts of the Wynn site – getting the right information out there and not allowing others to distort the facts…The question is written to fool people and to trick people. These questions are long and tedious and the information needs to be out there for people before they go to the polls.”
The Everett ‘No on 3’ campaign – also called the Coalition to Protect Mass Jobs – said they were glad to see Wynn Resorts join their effort. However, they said Wynn’s resources didn’t change the strategy of reaching people face-to-face and through the grass roots.
“It doesn’t change our game plan, but Mr. Wynn definitely brings credibility and strength to the effort because he’s a guy originally from Massachusetts and is so important in the industry,” said Everett’s Michael McLaughlin. “There are things and strategies that are going to happen no matter who joins the fight. I am glad Mr. Wynn joined because I think he realizes this is about getting the right information out there about his project. It’s about his duty at this point to try to help us help his industry. I think that’s what he did by joining the Coalition to Protect Mass Jobs.”