Suffolk Downs and Revere re-open casino talks, East Boston up-in-arms

TAGs: east boston, Massachusetts, revere, Suffolk Downs

massachusetts-online-poker-legislationThe Suffolk Downs racetrack and the city of Revere are hatching a plan to amend an existing casino agreement that would be changed to let the former build its proposed casino entirely in Revere. The original proposal called for the establishment to be developed in a part of town that straddles Revere and East Boston, but after the latter’s voters resoundingly rejected the proposed casino, the plans seemed to have hit a significant roadblock.

Or did it?

Talks between Suffolk Downs and Revere is the latest indication that both parties are prepared to move forward even without the involvement of East Boston. Both sides understand the complications of reworking an existing deal but the potential financial benefits just may be too hard to ignore. “It’s obviously going to be a serious uptick from where we were,” Revere mayor Dan Rizzo said.

“There’s no question it’s going to be a much richer agreement for the city of Revere.”

But saying so and doing it are entirely different matters, especially if East Boston has anything to say about it. The city whose voters rejected the referendum to build a casino in its jurisdiction are up-in-arms over the Revere-Suffolk talks, calling it a violation of the state’s casino law, which says that “if  a proposed gaming establishment is situated in two or more cities or towns,” that applicant had to talk with both communities “and receive a certified and binding vote on a ballot question at an election held in each host community in favor of such a license.”

Obviously, this puts a huge caveat on Suffolk and Revere’s plan to change the location of the casino and put it squarely on the latter’s side of town. And if you ask Suffolk’s interpretation of the law, it argues that what its doing is well within its limits, saying that its new proposal will be in just one community and that its voters backed the development on a land-use question.

The race track is still pushing forward with its plan to develop a proposal for a resort and casino that will be built in Revere, and with time running out – it only has until the end of the year to submit its plans and documents – it’s going to have a whole lot of scrambling to do to get it done.

East Boston’s contention will complicate things for Suffolk, making this episode one to watch as 2013 winds down.


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