More than a month has passed since negotiators for Suffolk Downs and Mayor Thomas M. Menino agreed on the framework of a deal to allow the East Boston thoroughbred track to move its gambling resort plans to a referendum vote.
Yet negotiations go on.
“At this point there is still not a signed deal,” Menino’s spokesperson Dot Joyce said on Friday.
Insiders say no insurmountable issues are holding up the deal, just the tortuous process of turning the agreed-upon framework into a written document.
The East Boston track has extra incentive to get a deal signed within the next week or so — if not, the mandatory public referendum on the project would get pushed into November. That’s because the state casino law requires at least a 60-day campaign period before any casino proposal goes to the ballot box, and the 60-day clock can’t start ticking until a deal is done.
A November referendum could clash with the Nov. 5 election for Boston mayor, or, if pushed later into the month, with the start of the holiday season when residents may not be in the mood for another election campaign.
The negotiated agreement is a necessary milestone in the application for a Massachusetts casino license. The deal will spell out the terms under which the city would accept a casino, including the compensation the developers will pay to the city. The Suffolk Downs deal is expected to be the richest casino agreement in the state.
Suffolk Downs, which straddles the line between Boston and Revere, has already struck a separate deal with Revere. The details have been kept confidential so both agreements can be released together.
Two other casino developers are also still negotiating: Mohegan Sun, in Palmer, and Foxwoods, in Milford.
All signs suggest the Palmer deal is imminent, likely coming out next week.
Milford selectmen on Monday are scheduled to discuss a draft agreement with Foxwoods, according to the board’s public agenda.