Caesars Reaches Host Agreement in East Boston, Public Referendum to Follow
After some recent concern as to whether the project would be viable due to a looming time crunch, a planned Nevada-style casino that would be constructed via a joint partnership between Caesars and Suffolk Downs, to abut Suffolk Downs’ existing racetrack in East Boston, has moved one step closer to becoming a reality.
Host agreement finally signed
This week the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the companies have finalized a community host agreement to build the proposed $1 billion resort, which would be located in the neighborhood of East Boston. The new casino would also adjoin the nearby city of Revere, Massachusetts, a municipality with just over 50,000 residents.
Back in 2011, Massachusetts gaming regulators cleared the way for resorts more typically associated with glamorous gaming hubs like Las Vegas or Macau than pastoral New England, to be constructed in the Bay State. Ultimately the state will issue three casino licenses in addition to one license for a slots-only gaming parlor.
Lone license will be granted for the Boston area
In the Boston area, only one casino license will be approved. As part of the process of attaining approval by Massachusetts officials, gaming companies first must reach an agreement with the host city. The host agreement then goes to a public referendum. In the case of the proposed Caesars/Suffolk Downs project, such a vote is expected to be scheduled to take place within the next 60 to 90 days, according to published media reports.
Should voters approve the casino plan, the fate of the application is ultimately in the hands of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. That body is set to make final decisions regarding casino licensing applications by December 31st of this year.
Earlier this summer, some gambling industry observers speculated that the East Boston project might be running up against a ticking clock, owing to the outside window of 90 days to execute a public referendum. As the development in this case also affects two municipalities – Boston as well as Revere – both communities will be voting on the issue.
Community would benefit to the tune of millions under terms of agreement
Under the terms of the newly-inked host agreement, Boston will realize $52 million in annual revenue should the casino be built, in addition to getting $33.4 million upfront. The agreement also earmarks funds for local infrastructure and transportation upgrades to accommodate casino visitors and related traffic.
Speaking about the project, which would be build very near to Boston’s major airport, Caesars Chairman Gary Loveman said, “There is really no better place than right next to the (Logan International) Airport and the racetrack.”
“It’s a tremendous destination,” Loveman, a Boston resident himself, was quoted in the Review-Journal.
Larger-than-life Boston Mayor Thomas Menino echoed Loveman’s enthusiasm, remarking in a statement, “I have said from the start of this process that I wanted three things: A first-class, resort destination casino, an agreement that would benefit the people of East Boston, and a proposal that will be selected by the State Gaming Commission. We are well on our way to that and more.”
Competition has already won big at the polls
As the proposal now heads to the people, the main competitor for the sole Boston-area casino license, the Wynn Company, has been enjoying the afterglow of a major victory after its Everett casino plan was overwhelmingly approved by local voters back in June.
Wynn has planned a $1.2 billion resort for an environmentally contaminated piece of land in the city of Everett, an industrial burg on the Mystic River.
Apparently unphased by Wynn’s success with voters, Loveman spoke to Everett’s reputation for being a down on its heels industrial town, saying, “I think the difference is that our project is in Boston where you have the greatest capacity to deliver. The other is in Everett.”
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