By Gintautas Dumcius
State House News Service
BOSTON -- Days after Bay State voters rejected an effort to repeal the state's 2011 casino law, Wynn officials Thursday presented state gaming commissioners with an outsized $85 million check meant to represent payment for a 15-year license fee.
The company, which plans to build a resort casino in Everett, had wired the money to the commission earlier in the day.
MGM Springfield plans to pay its $85 million licensing fee Nov. 17.
Wynn executive Robert DeSalvio presented the commission with the check, which bore businessman Steve Wynn's signature, after the commission unanimously voted to formally award the license to Wynn.
"This is the beginning of the payoff, the yield, the return on investment that the Commonwealth and the Legislature anticipated when the legislation was passed," said Commissioner James McHugh.
McHugh served as the commission's chair as it deliberated on whether to award the Region A license to Wynn or Mohegan Sun, which had partnered with officials from the Suffolk Downs racetrack and hoped to build a casino in Revere.
The licensing fee money will go toward tourism, a community casino-mitigation fund, a local aid fund, as well as education and transportation infrastructure funds, according to McHugh.
In 2011, the Legislature and Gov. Deval Patrick passed a law allowing up to three resort casinos and a slot parlor in Massachusetts.
Advertisement By a 60 percent to 40 percent margin, voters Tuesday opted to keep the law in place. Wynn is looking to finish the environmental approval process, begin the remediation process for the contaminated casino site in the first quarter of 2015, and open the casino by the end of 2017, DeSalvio said.
Commissioners Tuesday also formally awarded the Region B gaming license to MGM Springfield, which plans a spring 2015 groundbreaking on its $800 million casino. MGM plans to announce its general contractor in early 2015.
Thursday's votes were needed to execute the respective licenses.
After DeSalvio presented the check from Wynn, MGM Springfield's Mike Mathis told commissioners, "Ours is on the way."
The commissioners on Thursday voted 3 to 2 to push back by two months deadlines for applications for a southeastern Massachusetts casino license.
Commissioners said a new deadline may draw more applicants whose interest may have been previously dampened due to the unsuccessful ballot question effort to repeal the 2011 casino law.
By Feb. 1, applicants must have a $400,000 check, a completed team that includes financing and operations officials, and a background-check form.
By May 27, they will need to submit the full application, including a location, a host-community agreement, surrounding-community agreements, a referendum and a design of the facility.
KG Urban, seeking to build a casino in New Bedford, has deposited $400,000, but does not have a complete team, according to Gaming Commission Chair Stephen Crosby.
A Mashpee Wampanoag land-in-trust application related to its casino plans in Taunton remains under federal government review.
Moody's, the credit-rating agency, described the statewide vote this week to keep the Massachusetts casino law as "credit positive" for the casino host communities of Everett, Plainville and Springfield, as well as for the state. In making that declaration, Moody's cited payments to the host communities and licensing fees paid to the state, as well as the creation of construction and permanent jobs.
Conversely, Moody's described the vote Tuesday to repeal the state law indexing the state gas tax to inflation as "credit negative" for investors in state transportation bonds and federal grant anticipation notes "because the gas tax will be frozen at 24 cents per gallon, limiting the growth of pledged revenues, though debt service coverage remains strong for fiscal 2014."
(Michael Norton contributed reporting) https://plus.google.com/b/106792747735429015627/+Smqlimo-Canton-BostonMA/posts