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Keller @ Large: Wynn Will Play Major Role In Ballot Question Campaign

BOSTON (CBS) – On Wednesday, the state gaming commission formally approved Wynn Resorts as the winner of the Greater Boston casino license.

Because a ballot question could overturn the state's gaming law and make casino gambling illegal, the license doesn't take effect until three days after the November election.

Wynn Resorts says it will spend more than a billion and a half dollars to transform a lot in Everett into a gambling destination with a five-star hotel. To make this happen though, Wynn will have to spend money to make sure the casino law stays on the books. With the go-ahead for his plan now in hand, casino heavyweight Steve Wynn is discarding an earlier pledge to sit out the battle over repeal.

The celebration that started in Everett Tuesday continued at the formal gaming commission signing ceremony, but the real victory party will have to await the verdict on casino repeal in November.

"We have always said that it's up to the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to make that decision come November; whether or not we're going to get involved at a later date, we really haven't come to that conclusion yet," Robert DeSalvio, Wynn's Senior Vice President for Development said Wednesday.

But a top Wynn lobbyist said Wynn, and his deep corporate pockets, will in fact play a major role in the ballot question campaign. They can count on help from Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria.

"A lot of people are out of work, and this is something that's gonna generate a lot of jobs," said the lobbyist.

However, they can also count on the fierce opposition of casino opponents who plan to use their financial advantage against them.

"It's money that's coming from outside our state to tell our state what's best for our state, and I think our message coming from within the communities from grassroots organizers will prevail," said Darek Barcikowski, of Repeal the Casino Deal.

"We might have some more allies in Revere today than we had yesterday," said John Ribeiro, the Repeal the Casino Deal Chair.

Rebeiro also noted that money isn't everything, "We've seen deep pockets before, in East Boston, Palmer, Milford, we've been outspent by as much as 100 to 1. All we know is we need to get our message out and once we do, it resonates with people and people vote against casinos."

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh will meet with Wynn executives in a few weeks about the Everett plan to nail down a surrounding community agreement. The casino developer has pledged $25 million to manage traffic congestion at Sullivan Square area in Charlestown.

On Wednesday, Walsh said he expects "everything" to be on the table when he meets with Wynn. And while Walsh appears to have little legal leverage at his disposal, politics always play a role. Asked if he thought the repeal drive has a chance of success, Walsh said "nothing really surprises me."


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