Cambridge to receive $100K annually if Wynn Casino approved

Originally published April 30, 2014 in the Cambridge Chronicle.

Cambridge could be the recipient of $100,000 annually if the state grants Wynn Resorts Limited a license to operate a casino in Everett, according to an agreement signed April 22.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission agreed to designate Cambridge as a “surrounding community” in March after the casino operator refused to do so voluntarily, according to Lee Gianetti, communications director for Cambridge City Hall. Gianetti said the two parties reached an agreement within 30 days, meaning they would not have to face arbitration.

The city had already reached a deal in late January with the competing casino operator, Mohegan Sun, which voluntarily gave Cambridge the surrounding communities designation and agreed to an annual payment of $50,000, along with promises to help promote the tourism industry in Harvard Square. Both agreements contribute money towards traffic mitigation and public safety.

“Putting aside the specific commitments in the agreements, the opportunity to build a working relationship with the applicants will serve as an important tool for Cambridge when dealing with future concerns or opportunities that may arise, regardless of which applicant is awarded the resort-casino license,” said City Manager Richard Rossi.

Only the agreement associated with the casino license awarded by the state gaming commission, either Wynn or Mohegan Sun, will go into effect, Rossi said. He emphasized the agreements do not reflect a preference for one proposal over another, nor are they a reflection of support for gaming in general.

“The agreements were negotiated to protect the city’s interests in the event that a license is awarded to either of the two applicants,” Gianetti said.

The Wynn agreement does have a provision obligating Cambridge’s assistance in obtaining “any and all permits, certifications, legislation or regulatory approvals from governmental entities and officials.” In exchange, city officials, with the help of Wynn, will “exercise best efforts” in obtaining surrounding communities funds from the gaming commission if funds become available under the gaming act.

The Wynn agreement commits $25,000 annually for a broad range of efforts aimed at promoting Cambridge local businesses, tourism, and hotels within the city; $25,000 annually to support non-profits; $50,000 annually to support public safety and water transportation infrastructure; and a one-time payment of $200,000 for a traffic study of the Land Boulevard and O’Brien Highway intersection, which city officials said would be detrimentally impacted by the resort, if built.

The agreement also serves as a broad framework for addressing job opportunities for Cambridge residents, Gianetti said, including developing training programs in customer service, and establishing internship possibilities for students at the Rindge School of the Technical Arts. Likewise, Gianetti said, the Mohegan Sun agreement is a broad framework for promoting job opportunities, expanding local tourism and business opportunities, and tackling traffic issues.

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