Updated on 09/18/2014 8:59AM

Wynn Resorts gets lone Boston-area casino license

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A stake was driven through the heart of the Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry in New England on Tuesday, when the Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted 3-1 to award the sole Boston-area casino license to Wynn Resorts instead of to Mohegan Sun and partner Suffolk Downs.

Wynn officials must come back to the commission Wednesday morning to agree to a final list of conditions for the license, and then commissioners will take a final vote. But that is perceived as a formality.

Wynn will then move forward with plans to develop a $1.6 billion destination resort casino two miles from the stable gate of the 79-year-old racetrack, which is the last remaining of the 17 Thoroughbred tracks that once operated in New England.

“We are extraordinarily disappointed as this action is likely to cost the commonwealth thousands of jobs, small businesses, and family farms,” Suffolk chief operating officer Chip Tuttle said in a statement. “We will be meeting with employees and horsemen over the next several days to talk about how we wind down racing operations as a 79-year legacy of Thoroughbred racing in Massachusetts will be coming to an end, resulting in unemployment and uncertainty for many hardworking people.”

Had Mohegan Sun’s competing proposal to build a $1.3 billion casino on a portion of the racetrack grounds succeeded, Suffolk’s ownership was committed to continue live racing for a minimum of 15 years and implement a $40 million racing-improvement plan.

“The gaming commission’s decision is bitterly disappointing as our horsemen have worked so hard for so long to secure a bright future for Thoroughbred racing at Suffolk Downs and for our breeding industry in Massachusetts,” said Anthony Spadea, president of the New England chapter of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

“Now our entire industry, which provided 1,500 direct and indirect jobs in the commonwealth with an annual economic impact of $116 million, has been shut down. There are many Massachusetts horsemen who could have moved away and raced elsewhere or sold their breeding farms and open green space to developers, but they stayed here over the years and invested in racing with the hope of what might have been. Now that hope is destroyed as they will all be out of business.”

One of the conditions imposed upon Wynn Resorts by the commission is to give hiring preference to qualified applicants who are Suffolk Downs employees. But since it will take a minimum of three years to build the casino, and not every track employee will be deemed qualified for a position at the casino, many track employees will be without work when the Suffolk meet ends Oct. 1.

There is a statewide referendum on the November ballot to repeal the 2011 law that expanded gambling. If it passes, the decision to award the Boston license to Wynn will be upended. Current polling of registered voters in Massachusetts indicates that the repeal is unlikely.

Ned Daly More than 1 year ago
What may have been missed in this discussion, and should not be overlooked, is the fact that the Gaming Commision that voted not to give the license to Suffolk's partner IS the Mass Racing Commission. When the Gaming Commission was set up, the State dissolved the Racing Commission and devolved its powers onto the Gaming Commisssion. Vote YES on Question 3.
1971 Whippet More than 1 year ago
Bostonians aren't a stupid bunch, in my opinion. Many of them have enjoyed the casinos down the road, just off 95. Two of the biggest and most successful in the world and....their slot revenue is in a steady decline. I think that my neighbors will vote "NO" to the whole casino idea in a few weeks. Don't fret, though. There'll be lots of temp work in the winter. It's just a lot tougher at 55 (than it was 35 years ago). Good luck to all of you. What did they say at the amusement park? "This ride is about to stop".
hialeah More than 1 year ago
Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have been posting year over year losses since 2011. So get the facts straight. What do they say on the old pier? "That ship has sailed."
michael c More than 1 year ago
This decision shows you what lowlife scum politicians are. The owners of Suffolk devoted the past 8 years into reviving the track hoping that they be rewarded with a gaming franchise. Instead they get passed over for an out of State operator in Wynn. This decision should be thoroughly investigated. It just doesn't pass the STINK TEST!
nicholas More than 1 year ago
very sad--this was portrayed to be about jobs--but the decision to give it to wynn means the lass of thousands of jobs in the state and several industries--there will be a net loss of jobs in Massachusetts because of this whereas if Suffolk had won there would have been a big gain--the commission was in the satchel for wynn---its a loser for MA
Yuwipi More than 1 year ago
"Give hiring preference to qualified applicants who are Suffolk Downs employees". Are they trying to make people wet their pants? If this process went anything like the one in New York that wound up approving the Aqueduct casino half the people involved should be searched for the cash stuffed envelopes that are making them walk with a tilt. Scum of the earth. All the small New England tracks now gone. Crying shame.
Vincent Spathanas More than 1 year ago
I'd like to thank Richard Fields, Chip Tuttle and Suffolk Downs management for what they have given us and there effort put forth to keep racing alive in New England... Also, to horsemen and women who everyday worked hard and smart, I thank you and wish you all nothing but the best... And to the horses, thank you for giving me much joy and excitement, watching you turn for home gave me chills and thrills... You all will be missed. Peace.
Richard Kennedy More than 1 year ago
I'm from PA, and I mourn this news. Hate to see racing end anywhere. We're lucky in PA, SL0TS $ saved racing. I said some "0ur Father's & Hail Mary's" for you! CR00KED politicians!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Crooked politicians?? While your looking at politicians, horse track officials are pocketing most all if the bet pool $$$ that comes in. Gux the races, keep most of the cash. That is NOT the politicians, it the tracks themselves who are the crooks.
Chas More than 1 year ago
Once again people who have no clue about running, developing, building a business have killed off another business industry...if so-called appointees to commission boards and politicians weren't so clueless, crooked and think they know what is best, thoroughbred racing would still exist in Boston and thieve...but, just like other industries in other states, the people in decision making positions are hopeless, worthless, clueless and worst of all, hurting good, hard working people...thanks Massachusetts Gaming Commission....
Adam Strominger More than 1 year ago
If Suffolk cant make it on its own it should close like the casinos in Atlantic City.There should not be welfare for racetracks.
Michael Cusortelli More than 1 year ago
They're not looking for "welfare for racetracks," Adam. They're just looking to expand their entertainment options, which is something that every successful entertainment-based entity has done in the last 50 years -- including the National Football League.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Thank you Gov Christie.
Leslie Burke Fernandes More than 1 year ago
$&%^$^$#$*& PIGS I hope they all DIE!!