Revere Votes in Favor of Suffolk Downs Casino Project

The voters of Revere have approved Mohegan Sun’s $1.3 billion Suffolk Downs gambling resort project.

Around sixty-three percent of Revere voters expressed their support of constructing a casino resort on 42 acres of land. Carol Trapani, a 68-year-old gambler, said that a casino resort might as well go in Revere as it has “to go in somewhere.” Trapani and her husband are regular customers of Rhode Island’s Twin River Casino.

The ball is now in the court of the state gambling commission. Now that Mohegan Sun has the city voters’ support, it has to compete for a casino resort license in Greater Boston against Wynn Resorts, which has proposed the construction of a casino in Everett. The winner will be declared either in May or June.

The vote not only gives Mohegan Sun, which lost a similar vote in Palmer a few months back, a second chance, but also revives the hopes of Suffolk Downs, a horse racing facility located along East Boston and Revere. The track had lost an East Boston referendum in November.

A few hours before the votes were cast, Dan Rizzo, mayor of Revere, urged Suffolk Downs to shift its casino resort project so that it could be based in Revere and would not require East Boston’s vote. Suffolk Downs therefore got into an agreement with Mohegan Sun, and the gambling commission waived a rule to enable Tuesday’s vote.

According to the above-mentioned agreement, the horse racing track would lease the casino resort to Mohegan Sun and would use the proceeds to preserve the sport of horse racing in New England.

The casino resort project, however, is not without opponents who argue that it will lead to crime and other problems. Rev. George Szal of the Immaculate Conception Church protested against the casino project by holding a couple a “No Casino” signs on Broadway. He said: “Short-term gain, long-term pain. This casino will not fulfill its promises. It might provide some jobs in the beginning, but they won’t last.” He also said that “the struggle continues to eliminate predatory gambling in Massachusetts.”

According to the Repeal the Casino Deal Campaign Chairman John Ribeiro, the proposal to construct a casino resort in Suffolk Downs “should have died after voters in the actual host community soundly rejected it on Nov 5.” He further complained, “The industry is merely plucking off cities devastated by the recession and buying loyalty on the promise of jobs and revenues we know from experience elsewhere will not materialize.”

Delighted about the vote, Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority CEO Mitchell Etess said: “More people voted yes for this casino tonight than voted in the entire election in Everett, is my understanding. I’m sure the gaming commission wants to make sure there is good support. I think [the] margin shows there is huge support here in Revere.”

Around 44 percent of the voters in Revere arrived for the vote. Suffolk Downs CEO Chip Tuttle expressed his gratitude to various supporters and then said that the biggest champion of the cause was Mayor Rizzo.

« »