By Seth Daniel
State Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) joined Sen. President Stan Rosenberg in voicing displeasure with the Wynn Boston Harbor potential 4 a.m. last-call for alcohol this week, drawing some major pushback from Mayor Carlo DeMaria in a published op-ed for Commonwealth Magazine.
Eldridge – who most recently came to Everett to help kick off Candidate Stephanie Martins council campaign – said last week that the 4 a.m. provision for casinos like Wynn Boston Harbor showed that “our worst fears about casinos are coming to fruition.”
According to accounts published in Commonwealth, he said the extended license was a threat to existing restaurants and bars and proof that corporate interest were gaining a foothold on Beacon Hill.
He also said Wynn had “snuck” the provision into the State Budget.
Mayor DeMaria, however, countered Eldridge’s claims and said local firms will not suffer from Wynn, but will prosper.
“Wynn is revitalizing an industrial and underutilized neighborhood and opening a beautiful urban waterfront that has been fenced off from the public for 100-plus years,” he wrote. “More than $30 million was spent by Wynn to clean the former chemical plant site that was highly contaminated and blighting the community. Since construction of Wynn Boston Harbor started, my office regularly takes calls from developers worldwide looking to invest in our city. Just four months ago, Everett opened its first new hotel in 70 years. The number of new businesses who want to open here and existing companies who want to expand here is skyrocketing. There is an infectious excitement and optimism that can be felt whenever I talk to local business owners. This completely dispels the myth that when casinos arrive, local firms suffer.”
Eldridge’s comments came just about one month after Sen. President Stan Rosenberg told the Independent that he was extremely upset about the 4 a.m. provision.
“This is a national pattern,” he said in July. “Applicants know the rules when they compete for a license. Once they win the license they begin to chip away at the rules. This is especially troubling given that these resort style casinos haven’t even opened yet. This is only the beginning of the industry using their increasing power to undermine the state’s thoughtful and considered policy.”
DeMaria said the opposition is simply the voice of a few who don’t believe in the gaming industry or Wynn’s ability to transform a place like Everett. He said Everett did its homework, and the results are already showing.
“There always have been, and always will be, uninformed critics who promulgate fallacies about the gaming industry,” he said. “Before we welcomed Wynn to our community, we did our own research. What we learned was that a small, vocal minority used the casino issue as a pulpit to advance their own political and personal agendas. Their preconceived notions regarding gaming are outdated and completely unsupported by facts. Unfortunately, bias, myth and anecdote frequently inform views on gaming.”