11/27/2013 3:06PM

Suffolk Downs, Mohegan Sun team up for casino license


EAST BOSTON, Mass. – Suffolk Downs and Mohegan Sun announced Wednesday that they have struck a deal to partner in an effort to win the sole destination resort casino license designated for the Greater Boston area.

Both entities had been searching for a new partner after recent developments. Suffolk was notified by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in late October that Caesars, which formed a strategic alliance with the racetrack in 2011 to develop the $1 billion casino project and operate the gaming, would not pass its background check. Mohegan Sun did pass its suitability investigation, but then its plan to vie for a massive casino development in the designated Western region was rejected by the citizens of the host town of Palmer in a referendum Nov. 5. A recount this week upheld that outcome by 94 votes.

To further compromise Suffolk’s pursuit of the Boston area license, separate Nov. 5 referenda in the adjoining cities of East Boston and Revere, which are communities that the 78-year-old track straddles, produced mixed results. While Revere residents overwhelmingly approved the ballot question, it was resoundingly rejected in East Boston.

That necessitated Suffolk Downs revising its architectural and engineering plans to relocate the casino project entirely to 42 acres of the 52 acres that the track owns in Revere. The redesign now calls for the racing and gaming aspects of the project to be separated as the racetrack and turf course are situated on the East Boston side of the property.

Suffolk announced Oct. 21 that it would implement a $40 million racing improvement plan should it prove successful in winning the casino license.

“The horsemen are encouraged by this exciting new development, and we look forward to continuing to work with Suffolk Downs, and now with Mohegan Sun,” said Anthony Spadea, president of the New England Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has yet to determine whether Suffolk Downs may move forward with its revised proposal to relocate the development entirely to the Revere side of the racetrack grounds. The commission has scheduled an open meeting for Tuesday and the status of Suffolk Downs is on the agenda.

Mohegan Sun, which has a strategic partnership with Bridge Capital Management, a $15 billion investment adviser with extensive experience in the gaming industry, currently owns and operates casinos in Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania is a harness racing track and casino.