Suffolk Downs Finds New MA Casino Partner in Mohegan Sun

Suffolk Downs Casino Plan

More Details Emerge Around Suffolk Downs Deal

Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, historic East Boston racetrack Suffolk Downs indeed found something for which it could be thankful: the solidifying of a new casino partnership deal with the Mohegan Sun.

Racetrack left without partner after Caesars departure

Suffolk Downs was left without a casino comrade ahead of a must-win public referendum earlier this month when its former partner, Caesars Entertainment, walked away from its Massachusetts plan after regulators uncovered supposed criminal ties to one of its investors.

Voters in East Boston subsequently shot down its casino project in that public plebiscite on November 5, however in nearby Revere, Massachusetts – where residents also went to the polls to give the idea the thumbs up or thumbs down – the outcome was the opposite, with voters there approving plans to develop a new land-based casino.

Ahead of a December 31 application deadline to snag one of three the high-coveted casino licenses being handed out by Massachusetts gaming officials in the early part of next year, Suffolk Downs announced its newly-formed deal with Mohegan Sun  – which also met with disapproval from voters this month – and now more details are coming out with regard to the two companies’ plans to move the project forward.

Mohegan Sun had proposed a new Las Vegas-style casino for Palmer, where local residents turned down the plan in their own public referendum. Winning a public referendum is a crucial step in the Massachusetts licensing process; without a victory applications will not be considered at all.

Suffolk Downs would act as landlord under new deal

Instead of having an ownership stake in the new full scale casino, Suffolk Downs will instead serve as the landlord, according to the Boston Globe. Because voters in East Boston nixed the idea, the entire casino will be situated on forty-two acres of land owned by the historic racetrack in Revere.

Mohegan Sun has a financial partner, Brigade Capital Management, based in New York. Together, Mohegan and Brigade will develop and operate the new casino, if it wins one sole Boston-area license.

“Essentially, Brigade and Mohegan Sun will own the casino on land leased from Suffolk Downs,” remarked chief executive of the Mohegan Tribal Authority, Mitchell Etess, in an interview with the paper.

“We know how to build something that is appreciated by New Englanders. Our intention is not to move Las Vegas or Uncasville to Revere, but to build something that is appropriate to the region,” continued Etess, whose tribe is responsible for the operations of its namesake casino in nearby Connecticut, one of the largest casino properties in the nation.

Regulators will make final announcements next spring

Speaking to what he sees as a natural pairing for the two companies, Etess said, “Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs each began our pursuit of a place in the Massachusetts gaming industry in different ways and different locations. Circumstances brought us together in recent days, and we immediately recognized that something truly special can be created in Revere.”

Whether that special something comes to pass remains to be seen. Also in the running for the highly sought after Boston casino license is Wynn, which, if green-lighted, plans to construct a $1.2 billion resort along the Mystic River in Everett.

Massachusetts gaming officials will be issuing three licenses in the beginning part of 2014. In addition to the Boston license, one permit for a casino resort will be granted for western Massachusetts, and yet another will be given out for a slots-only gambling parlor.