Revere braces for referendum to determine casino fate

TAGs: Casino News, Massachusetts, Mohegan Sun, revere

suffolk-downs-and-mohegan-sun-partner-for-revere-casinoThe city of Revere in Massachusetts is bracing for what could potentially be a make-or-break casino referendum that will determine whether it’s still in the race for the one casino license in eastern Massachusetts.

Revere residents are expected to come in droves to vote on the casino referendum and should the public vote in favor of Mohegan Sun’s casino plan at Suffolk Downs, then the proposal lives to fight another day, or at least until a decision is handed out the Massachusetts Gambling Commission on whether Mohegan or rival Wynn Resorts wins that license. But that Mohegan Sun/Wynn Resorts debate is for another day; what’s important is that the referendum passes. One step at a time, right?

“This is a pass/fail test,” said Revere mayor Daniel Rizzo told the Boston Globe. “If we thought there were style points for a larger margin of victory we’d have concentrated on that.”

The pro-casino and anti-casino groups have wagered a feverish and contentious back-and-forth leading up to the votes tomorrow and it figures that the final tally will reflect on how close the decision is going to be. Both sides have expressed confidence that their respective stances will win, putting even more pressure on voters to make that ultimate decision on whether Revere is still in the running for the casino license, or if Wynn Resorts’ path to it becomes that much easier.

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth casino expert Clyde Barrow told the Globe that if there’s one community he thinks will ride this opportunity all the way to acquiring those coveted licenses, it’s Revere. “[Revere] should be as sure a win as you’re going to get in Massachusetts,” Barrow said, before adding that “the theme we’ve seen over and over in these referenda is distressed communities with low incomes and high rates of unemployment approve these referenda, and the bedroom communities and suburbs that are comparatively affluent with low rates of unemployment vote against it.”

If anything, Revere belongs among those distressed communities Barrow was talking about and the need for economic relief has been one of Rizzo’s most important points in championing for a casino to be built in the city. In the past few months, the mayor has pushed the economic and employment benefits of Mohegan Sun’s proposed $1.3 billion resort, all while defending the city’s capability to handle a gambling business from groups that have voiced their opposition of the issue.

That’s why tomorrow’s vote is important in shaping the landscape of Massachusetts’ casino industry, or at least have an immediate effect on who will be awarded these licenses. If the proposal is approved by voters, there’s still a lot of debate left to be done, including its fight against Wynn Resorts’ proposal in Everett. But to get to that point, voters must approve the casino referendum and at this point, with all the back-and-forth between pro and anti casino groups, hurdling that obstacle can be attributed as a win in it of itself.


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