Massachusetts could just as well be called Mass Exodus of Casino Giants these days. Caesars Entertainment walked away from a partnership-to-be after what they deemed to be ridiculous scrutiny by the gaming commission there, and Wynn has hinted he may well do the same and for the same reasons.
But it’s Suffolk Downs racetrack – located outside of Boston – that has born the brunt of that exodus, not to mention some smackdowns from East Boston residents in the recent elections – and has been left holding the bag as a result. But now it looks like Suffolk Downs could have a Plan C hatching in the wings.
The racetrack has been in talks with the city of Revere – located about five miles from downtown Boston – to amend the current casino agreement so the project could go up in Revere, not the edge of Boston bordering on Revere as originally planned (and subsequently shot down by East Boston, but not Revere, voters).
“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.”
That may be, but East Boston is now crying foul over the new one-sided talks. Having defeated the casino referendum by a 56 percent margin, those unhappy voters now say a Revere-Suffolk Downs only plan would be a violation of Massachusetts’ casino laws, which make clear that “if a proposed gaming establishment is situated in two or more cities or towns,” both communities must be involved “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.”
That means the new casino plan would have to resituate the project, so that it ends up being built exclusively on Revere land, with no part in Boston, as had been previously planned for. But Suffolk Downs says they can pull this rabbit out of a hat, and get it done quickly to boot; they will only have until December 31, 2013 to submit the revised plans to city fathers.
Boston Could Put Its Foot Down
But East Boston could still certainly fight the situation tooth and nail, and even potentially file injunctions to stop Revere from moving forward.
However this one plays out, no one can say that Massachusetts’ entry in the wonderful world of casinos has been a smooth one, if it ever even happens. Between an over-zealous regulatory agency examining every receipt and business meeting that ever took place between casino industry kingpins and their associates; a fairly unfriendly constituency reaction to the concept of having casinos at all; and lately an Indian tribe butting heads about their rights to build a new project on Martha’s Vineyard, you could even say maybe the gambling gods are trying to tell the Bay State that Ivy League schools may be more of their bailiwick than casinos.
Maybe what happens in Vegas should not happen in Massachusetts after all.