SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 29, 2014

Salem would benefit from casino at Suffolk Downs

BY TOM DALTON
STAFF WRITER

---- — SALEM — The city of Salem stands to cash in some chips if Mohegan Sun is awarded a license to develop a $1.3 billion resort casino in Revere.

Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs yesterday announced tentative community benefit agreements with seven municipalities: Cambridge, Chelsea, Lynn, Malden, Medford, Melrose and Salem.

Under the agreement in principle, Salem would get $50,000 in annual payments for cross-promotion, marketing and tourism activities, according to Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs.

The prospective casino developers are pledging $3.75 million in local impact payments among the seven communities and a range of economic and community benefits, including job and business opportunities.

Although Salem is the farthest community from the prospective casino site at Suffolk Downs, Driscoll said the agreement will benefit both the city and casino.

“We’re a tourism community,” she said. “We’re the closest tourism community outside of Boston to this facility, and this will be something that attracts tourists, so we’ve got to find a way to work together.”

Driscoll has been a strong supporter of a casino at Suffolk Downs.

“We’re only 14 miles away from them, and there are going to be people who need work from Salem and the North Shore, and we need to be plugged into that better,” she said.

Mohegan Sun also designated Boston, Saugus and Winthrop as surrounding communities and is in talks with those municipalities.

The agreements with Salem and the other communities have been reached in the event a casino proposal submitted by Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs is approved. A decision is expected in May or June.

The Salem agreement in principle would need City Council approval.

The Mohegan Sun Massachusetts proposal includes a resort casino, 500 hotel rooms, restaurants and other attractions.

“We are pleased to announce these agreements, which represent an important step in our efforts to develop an incredible destination that will benefit the entire region with the creation of new jobs, economic development and tourism opportunities,” Mitchell Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, said in a press release.

“Each of these communities has been a great neighbor to Revere and Suffolk Downs, and these agreements illustrate Mohegan Sun Massachusetts’ commitment to work in partnership with our neighboring communities.”

Tom Dalton can be reached at tdalton@salemnews.com.