By Lynne Snierson
Suffolk Downs could soon be facing stiff competition for the sole destination-resort casino license to be awarded in the designated Boston area now that major Las Vegas developer Steve Wynn is interested in entering the fray.
Wynn is on his way to Massachusetts to hold talks about building an expansive gambling complex on an alternative site. David Rodrigues, the acting chief of staff for Everett, Mass., Mayor Carlo DeMaria told reporters: "We're looking forward to having a forthright discussion with Mr. Wynn about his vision for that site."
Sources confirmed that Wynn will be in Everett Nov. 28 to talk with city officials about the idle 40-acre industrial property located near the Mystic River known locally as the old Monsanto chemical plant. Though a spokesperson for Wynn issued no comment, a high-ranking official of his company reportedly toured the site in recent days.
Earlier in November officials from Hard Rock International entered into the discussion with DeMaria about the same site, and Rush Street Gaming, which has set up Massachusetts Gaming & Entertainment LLC, is also said to be a potential player in a possible bid for the property.
Neither concern has filed an application with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission or paid the $400,000 fee as required by state law. The deadline is Jan. 15, 2013.
Suffolk Downs, the only surviving Thoroughbred racetrack in New England, has partnered with Caesars Entertainment ,and the 77-year-old track filed its formal application to develop a $1 billion casino on its 163-acre grounds and paid the fee. Track management, which has revealed its architectural renderings of the project, has consistently maintained that continued live racing is part of the proposed development.
None of the other casino companies, including Wynn's, have included live racing in their discussions.
Should Wynn move forward and battle Caesars for the sole license, it will place the casino industry's two biggest heavyweights in direct competition again. Last year, Wynn and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft planned to develop a $1 billion casino across the street from Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., which falls within the Boston region. But town residents made it patently clear they did not want expanded gambling, and the project was scrapped.
Locating the casino at Suffolk Downs has already received the backing of two powerful figures in Massachusetts politics in Boston Mayor Tom Menino and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, both Democrats. The speaker represents the district in which the track is located, and his late father worked as a mutuels clerk there for many years.
Suffolk Downs officials had no comment on the latest developments.