MGC Adopts Flexible Rating Process in Licensing Hearings, to Begin Monday

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) is getting set to begin the evaluations of both Region A casino applications next Monday in a complex, but deliberate, process that is likely to last one week or, perhaps, more.

Like the previous slot license award, there will be no simple up and down vote about who to award the one license to – either Mohegan Sun in Revere or Wynn Resorts in Everett.

On Aug. 21, the MGC reviewed an outline of the process, which will include a ratings process of five specific areas and discussion of conditions on the license.

The target date for awarding the license is Sept. 12, but it could take longer according to MGC Executive Director Rick Day.

“I think at least from the approach here it seems very clear that we have got that week targeted,” said Day at the meeting. “But in the end, the process is designed to allow the timing Commission needs part of the information and to get appropriate responses from the applicants of the complex reports and conditions that are there. I think the concentration is the best result for the Commonwealth as opposed to a particular day…It’s also the recognition that you just mentioned that the complexity of both projects and the nature of both of those projects is that it may very well take time to get a clear understanding of what those conditions and what each of the evaluation parts say. So, I think it’s the concept is to make sure that the process is flexible and be able to take different steps along the way if you need it.

Commissioner Jim McHugh agreed that the target date should remain, but there should be flexibility to go longer.

“That’s really an important point,” McHugh said. “We’ve said and maintain that we’re starting on the 8th. We are starting on the 8th, and we said we are finishing on the 12th. We are going to make the award on the 12th. We will try to do that. But if we don’t do that because we are trying to make sure that we get the best result for the Commonwealth, we will continue with perhaps pauses to have these back and forths with the applicants straightforward until we do finish them. If that takes a few extra days, so be it. But the object is to ensure that we have a fair transparent process that results in the best – in the best bagging for the Commonwealth, and this is designed to assist us in doing that.”

The Commission will begin by making reports on four different areas of study.

First will be a return to the suitability discussions of all applicants – whether or not there have been any changes in status to applicants.

Then, after all the suitability discussions have been had, the Commission will move on to analyzing and rating each of the two proposals on the subjects of Building/Site Design and Finance.

The second set of discussions will be on the subjects of Mitigation and Economic Development.

The final discussion will be an overview of all four categories.

That will launch into what is expected to be a prolonged and potentially complicated process of adding conditions and correcting any errors made in the presentations.

The Commission will submit a series of questions and comments to each applicant and then put the meeting in recess.

That will allow the applicants to answer the questions and discuss the conditions.

That back and forth will continue until all have been satisfied.

No ratings will be discussed until the overview process.

Again, rather than an up or down vote on the two projects, there will be ratings for each project, with the license going to the project that has scored the best. With that in mind, a project may get favorable ratings, but if the ratings are eclipsed by the other project, the other project would be awarded the license.

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