Suffolk Downs East Boston Casino Vote Possibly to Happen on Same Day as Citywide Elections
When Bostonians head to the polls on November 5th to select a new mayor for their city, they may be voting on another issue that has proven to be very important to many residents, that being the plans to build a new casino at East Boston’s Suffolk Downs racetrack.
The casino, which would be built in partnership by Suffolk Downs and Caesars, would adjoin the existing racetrack and is slated to cost $1 billion to construct.
After the two companies reached host agreements late last month with the communities impacted by the new development, the next step in the licensing process requires that citizens of East Boston as well as adjoining Revere, Massachusetts vote in a public referendum that will ultimately determine whether the plans will be approved.
Both cities must approve the host agreement, which deals with issues of taxation, infrastructure, the need for additional city services such as police protection and traffic control, as well as other issues that may arise as a result of the casino and its construction.
Both sides prefer this date for the referendum
According to the Boston Globe, holding the casino vote on the same day as the mayoral election makes sense. Those in favor of the casino, who cite the property’s potential to bring jobs, revenue, and tourism to the area, as well as those who oppose it, point out that due to the high-profile nature of this particular mayoral race, voter turnout should be high.
Both sides posit that they stand to benefit from what are expected to be heavy crowds at the polling places, as the city’s long-serving mayor, Thomas Menino, is stepping down after twenty years at Boston’s helm due to myriad health problems. He spent part of last year running the city from a hospital room as he underwent treatment for a slew of serious physical maladies.
Though it has been reported that the current crop of candidates is noted mostly for being unremarkable, Bostonians are still expected to show out in droves to the polls to select a new mayor. For Celeste Myers, a co-chair of the anti-casino group No Eastie Casino, this is a good thing.
“We want as many voters as possible. I think that date is optimal for us,” Myers told the Globe.
The casino seems undaunted by any opposition to the project, with Suffolk Downs CEO Chip Tuttle noting that he too favors a November 5th date for the referendum, which is required to be held within 60 to 90 days from the signing of the host agreements.
“The economic benefits of this project — the jobs, the business partnerships — are so compelling and the support we have in both communities is so solid. We could have the election any time within the 60- to 90-day window,” Tuttle was quoted as saying.
Outgoing Mayor Menino said to have supported this plan over Wynn’s
The state of Massachusetts will be issuing three licenses for Nevada-style resort casinos at the end of this year, in addition to one operating license for a slots-only gambling parlor. Competition for the lone Boston-area casino license has been fierce, with casino chatter dominating local news for the better part of 2013.
Earlier this year soon-to-be retired Mayor Menino was rumored to be in favor of the Caesars/Suffolk Downs casino plan over that of another casino project, the Everett resort put forward by the Wynn Company. Wynn’s plan, which calls for the construction of of $1.2 billion bronze glass curtain tower on a contaminated parcel of land alongside the Mystic River, was overwhelmingly approved by Everett voters in June. If his plan goes forward, Steve Wynn has promised not only to clean up the polluted land, which used to be home to a Monsanto chemical facility, but also to build the most luxurious hotel in the city of Boston.
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