Boston mayor objects to casino licensing process

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BOSTON (AP) — Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh's administration has called on the state's top gambling regulator to recuse himself from the casino licensing process in eastern Massachusetts.

In a strongly-worded letter submitted Thursday, the administration accused Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby of making several "prejudicial" statements critical of the city's request to be declared a "host community" for proposed casinos in the nearby communities of Everett and Revere.

Walsh's administration also objects to a May 1 hearing after which the commission is expected to rule on the city's request.

The mayor's office says the hearing violates the city's due process rights because it unreasonably limits the city's ability to receive and present evidence to support its claim.

"It eliminates the City's opportunity to call witnesses, to cross-examine witnesses and to create an appropriate evidentiary record that is subject to legal review," the city said in its letter. "In sum, the proposed procedure represents a thinly veiled attempt to 'stack the deck' against the city."

State Gaming Commission spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said in a statement that the commission remains focused on implementing the state's 2011 casino law in a "transparent and fair" manner.

"The Commission's role is not to participate in or be distracted by the politicizing of certain aspects of this process," she said.

Crosby said at a meeting in early April that the commission was "bending over backward" to accommodate the city's request.

He also said dealing with Boston's request means the state, realistically, won't award a license to a casino in its east region until at least August. The commission had initially hoped to award the license in June.

Boston's letter was among a number filed by Thursday's deadline to submit written comments in advance of the May 1 hearing. Individuals or groups can submit reply briefs by April 24.

Casino giants Mohegan Sun and Wynn, who are both opposed to granting Boston host community status, submitted briefs, as did "No Eastie Casino," an East Boston-based group opposed to efforts to build a casino in the Boston area.

Revere Mayor Daniel Rizzo's administration filed a brief arguing that it should be recognized as the sole host community for the casino proposed by Mohegan Sun.

If granted host community status, Boston residents would have an opportunity to vote on — and potentially reject — casino proposals by Mohegan Sun in Revere and Wynn in Everett.

Wynn and Mohegan Sun have argued that their projects are close to the city line but not in Boston proper.

That, they say, makes Boston eligible for "surrounding community" status, which would entitle the city to some of the casino profits but not allow for citywide voter referendums.

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