After spending nearly $12 million to do extensive background checks on resort casino applicants, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has switched gears this week for the final stretch in the Greater Boston casino licensing process after accepting Phase 2 applications on Dec. 31 from both Wynn Resorts and Mohegan Sun.
The MGC also received an application from MGM Springfield for a casino license in the western region of the state. Phase 2 applications – all of which are thousands of pages long – became public on Monday.
“The three applications are thousands of pages long and contain answers to 200 questions that we’ve asked,” said Chair Stephen Crosby. “The applications have a vast array of criteria in them. Most of all, what people will understand and appreciate is the [description] of the facility itself. What does it look like? What are the surrounding amenities in terms of hotels, spas, restaurants, retail outlets and entertainment venues…We’ve spent in excess of $10 million, probably closer to $12 million, to do these background checks. We had our investigators in Asia as well as all around the country in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Nevada and Ohio. Because the background checks have been going on for so long, you sort of forget there’s still the guts of the process that has to take place for the casino applicants.”
Crosby said the MGC would begin with an administrative completeness process to make sure all the applications are complete and legible.
Following that, there will be 90-minute presentations before the MGC at its Jan. 22 meeting by each of the Phase 2 applicants – mostly an overview of what was submitted in the voluminous applications.
As the reviews begin to get more detailed, each Commissioner will take an oversight role over one of the five main evaluations points. That will include:
•General Overview – Chairman Crosby
•Financials – Enrique Zuniga
•Economic Development – Bruce Stebbins
•Building/Site Design – James McHugh
•Mitigation Agreements – Gayle Cameron
Community specific public hearings will also take place this spring, with Crosby saying at least two will be held in each community to get public input. Already, tentative hearing dates have been scheduled in Revere for April.
The applications contain just about every question, every answer, every picture and every financial statement that any detailed insider or casual observer could want. Each general application is in a question-and-answer format and is more than 200 pages long. Beyond that, there are also thousands of pages of supplemental materials and attachments contained in each application as well – making the review of such a document nearly a full-time job, and one reason why the MGC doesn’t expect to award a license until mid-May.
General highlights for both Great Boston projects include:
Mohegan will feature more than 170,000 sq. ft. of floor space and 5,000 gaming positions, including 4,000 slot machines, 100 table games (such as blackjack, baccarat, roulette and craps), and 20 poker tables. Hotel facilities include a main casino hotel and a boutique hotel that together total 500 rooms and reflect the breadth of the overall resort entertainment experience.
The Shops at Mohegan Sun Massachusetts will feature world-class retail, casual and fine dining and entertainment options created by Boston-based developers New England Development and Finard Properties.
Other Mohegan highlights:
10,000 sq. ft. spa
5,000 sq. ft. greenhouse
38,000 sq. ft. of meeting space
Built to LEED Gold standards
Project will create 2,500 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs.
Mohegan Sun Massachusetts will produce an estimated $1.64 billion in municipal and state tax revenues in the first five years of operation, and $1 billion in total economic output during project development.
Mohegan is also expected to have an annual economic impact of $428.9 million from operational and third-party expenditures, while producing $53 million in annual economic impacts from ancillary, off-resort spending. Improvements to regional transportation infrastructure will total $45 million.
Mohegan has announced entertainment partnerships with Citi Center in Boston – an expansive agreement that has been carried over from the previous project fronted by Suffolk Downs. The casino company has also stressed its proximity to the Blue Line Beachmont Station and has discussed tentative plans to perhaps connect the casino with a walkway.
Wynn is proposing 167,880 sq. ft. of gaming space that will be located beyond a Winter Garden amenity and across from the main entrance. The tall, grand space will consist of 3,072 slot machines and 150 table games (25 dedicated to poker only), totaling out to 3,972 gaming positions. Included in that will be a high-limit slot area with 72 machines and 10 VIP table games for premium domestic and international customers.
Wynn will offer multiple, relatively small-scale entertainment venues designed to stimulate visitation from all customer segments. These venues include a modern sports bar located off of the main gaming area, a casino lounge on the opposite side of the casino with stunning views of the Mystic River, a nightclub (modeled after Wynn Las Vegas’ industry-leading nightclubs) located adjacent to the casino, a flexible, custom-designed grand ballroom for shows and events that can hold up to 1,000 seats, and an outdoor amphitheater surrounded by beautiful landscaping on the waterfront that can hold more than 500 seats.
Wynn is touting the creation of a new, family-friendly esplanade on the waterfront that will be larger than the Charles River version in the Back Bay, and an indoor Winter Garden.
“On the river’s edge, Wynn’s family friendly esplanade – larger than Boston’s historic Charles River Esplanade – will be filled with an array of shops, restaurants and public venues, including a waterside amphitheater, year-round winter garden and a harbor-side public park,” read the application.
Wynn also touts a partnership with the Boston Harbor Association that will provide a water taxi to and from the resort.
“Massachusetts is known for its relationship to the water,” read the application. “Physical connection will be aided by running regular water shuttles connecting the Wynn Resort in Everett to major tourist centers of Boston, specifically the convention center, Faneuil Hall, the Aquarium and North End.”
Within the resort, there will be nearly 35,000 sq. ft. of convention and meeting space, with three meeting rooms and a 20,000 sq. ft. column-free ballroom. All meeting spaces will offer floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto terraces overlooking Boston skylines and cityscapes.
Wynn announced entertainment partnerships with the Boston Symphony Orchestra/Boston Pops and the TD Garden. It also identified a potential alliance with the Massachusetts Oyster Project to transplant millions of oysters into the harbor to re-attract shrimp, bluefish, bass and other sea life to the Mystic River Watershed.
Full copies of both the Mohegan and Wynn Phase 2 applications can be viewed on the Revere Journal website’s ‘Hard Copy’ feature at www.reverejournal.com.