Boston mayor to ask Massachusetts to hold off on casino license

BOSTON, July 2 Wed Jul 2, 2014 7:00am EDT

BOSTON, July 2 (Reuters) - Boston's mayor is due to ask Massachusetts gaming regulators on Wednesday to put off awarding a casino license near the city until November, after a statewide ballot initiative on repealing the law allowing casinos in the state.

Mayor Marty Walsh proposed putting the casino licensing process on hold following a ruling last week by the state's highest court allowing a vote on whether to repeal the 2011 law that permitted three casinos to be licensed in the state. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will hear his case and possibly vote on it at a Wednesday meeting.

Walsh has said it would be a poor use of time to try to negotiate compensation agreements with casino giants Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts Ltd, who are each vying to build a casino in neighboring cities, if state voters go on to repeal the law allowing casinos.

"Given the uncertainty of expanded gaming in Massachusetts, the city emphasized that a stay was necessary to save the City from incurring considerable expenditure of time, money, and effort in connection with the ongoing proceedings," the city said in a legal brief submitted to the commission.

Voters in East Boston last year rejected a proposed casino backed by Caesars Entertainment Corp. Two casino projects for cities abutting Boston - a Mohegan Sun development in Revere and Wynn's proposal in Everett - have since gone forward in the competition for the sole license available in eastern Massachusetts.

The commission had been set to approve one of the two projects by September.

Only one of the three casino licenses has been awarded, to Las Vegas developer MGM Resorts International, with formal licensing on hold pending the referendum. (Editing by Scott Malone and Jim Loney)

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