Did a Gaming Commissioner Foreshadow Boston’s Ability to Kill the Wynn Casino?

A little-known public agency could deep-six the Wynn casino in Everett.

Wynn Everett

A rendering of the future $1.6 billion Wynn Resorts casino in Everett.

Last October, Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner James McHugh appeared to predict the situation that reporter Jon Chesto outlined in Friday’s Boston Globe.

Chesto drilled down into the roots of the long-running dispute between Wynn and Boston, in a piece that revolved around the seldom-noticed city agency that permits road work: the Public Improvement Commission, a group overseen by transportation commissioner Gina Fiandaca. In order for Wynn to open its casino in Everett, it needs to upgrade the primary access point for the facility: the notoriously congested Sullivan Square rotary that borders Charlestown, Everett, and Somerville. Wynn has proposed $10 million in improvements for the traffic-clogged area. Before Wynn can put a shovel in the ground in Sullivan Square, it needs to secure permits from PIC.

The gaming license Wynn was awarded last fall required the company to apply for permits from PIC within 90 days. City officials say Wynn has not yet filed those applications, while Wynn claims it has.  The disagreement over paperwork is now part of Boston’s suit against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. As the dispute over work in Sullivan Square drags on it appears the city has the upper hand though the MGC is reviewing the situation.

“They’re not even close to satisfying City Hall,” said a City Hall source speaking on condition of anonymity.

Wynn’s plan is to proceed with the construction of the resort whether or not they have the permit from the PIC for Sullivan Square according to a person close to Wynn.

“We’re going full speed ahead,” said a person close to Wynn.

Wynn tried to avoid this problem by purchasing land from the MBTA that is adjacent to their planned casino but that, too, has hit a snag.

In October, McHugh referenced the gaming license’s  90 day permit requirement as a way to accelerate the process not slow it down.

“The commission did not want this process to simply drag on in limbo. So, it set a 90-day time limit for Wynn applying to the Public Improvement Commission, the Boston roadway licensing group, a 90-day limit to get plans together and get them to the permit granting authority, the authority that actually has power to grant or deny those permits. So that we’re not here a year from now wondering whether or not this is going to get off the ground. This is designed to get it off the ground or determine that it can’t get off the ground,” said McHugh

McHugh went even further at the October meeting in Charlestown saying that the without the permit from the PIC there can be no Wynn casino in Everett.

“Without their approval none of this can be done, no matter what the plan is unless they agree ultimately that the plan is workable,” said McHugh according to a transcript from the event.

The MGC declined to comment on McHugh’s comments from the meeting and said they are in the process of reviewing the permit dispute between Wynn and Boston.