- Associated Press - Thursday, April 3, 2014

BOSTON (AP) - The process for awarding casino licenses in eastern and southeastern Massachusetts will take at least two months longer than hoped, state gambling officials said Thursday.

The state Gaming Commission now says it won’t be until August for a decision to be made on a Boston-area casino. The five-member panel also said it will push back the next deadline for casino applications in the Fall River-New Bedford area to at least late September.

At a meeting at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, the gambling commission voted to hold a May 1 public hearing on Boston’s bid to be declared a “host community” for proposed casinos in the nearby communities of Everett and Revere.

If granted the status, Boston residents would have an opportunity to vote on - and potentially reject - casino proposals by Mohegan Sun in Revere and Wynn in Everett. If granted “surrounding community” status, Boston would reap some of the casino profits but not be allowed to seek voter referendum.

Mohegan Sun and Wynn are both opposed to granting Boston host community status.

Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby said the revised process means the state won’t award a casino license for eastern Massachusetts until August, at the earliest. The commission had hoped to award the license in June.

“We’re bending over backward to give the city a very fair opportunity … and compromising a lot of other parties,” he said Thursday. “I think it’s the right thing to do, but a big price is being paid by a lot of people to try and accommodate the city.”

In southeastern Massachusetts, the commission pushed back an application deadline from July 23 to at least Sept. 22 in an effort to give private developers more time on their proposals.

Fall River Mayor William Flanagan, whose administration has been in talks with Connecticut-based Foxwoods to develop a resort-style casino, had urged the commission to maintain the July deadline. But New Bedford officials and other casino developers had sought later deadlines.

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