Suffolk Downs to move forward with Revere casinoBy BOB SALSBERG , Associated Press
Nov. 14, 2013 3:24 PM ET
BOSTON (AP) — In the strongest indication yet that it planned to move forward despite being rejected by East Boston voters, Suffolk Downs expressed confidence to state gambling regulators on Thursday that it would submit an application for a proposed casino in Revere by the end of the year.
"The portion of our property in Revere, 52 acres, is larger than the sites of other applicants in urban environments in (Massachusetts) and is more than enough area for us to accommodate a world-class gambling resort," Suffolk Downs chairman William Mulrow wrote in a hand-delivered letter to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
Mulrow also indicated that the thoroughbred race track was close to choosing a new casino operating partner. Suffolk Downs severed ties with Caesars Entertainment after being informed of red flags turned up during the commission background check of Caesars.
The track's potential shift to a Revere-only site is one of several recent twists in the Massachusetts gambling picture as the Dec. 31 deadline approaches for regional resort casino applicants. Under state law, the commission can award up to three regional licenses.
Suffolk Downs' original $1 billion casino proposal straddled East Boston and Revere. The plan appeared doomed after East Boston voters rejected the proposal in a referendum on Nov. 5. But Revere voted to back the project on the same day, prompting Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo to suggest that the track shift the casino plan to a site entirely in his city.
"Even with the changes we are making in the project, we remain confident that we are on pace to finalize all of the required agreements and studies, and submit our application for a gaming license by December 31," Mulrow wrote.
Suffolk Downs planned to amend its current host community agreement with Revere to reflect the revised plan, the letter said, and also attempt to reach a surrounding community agreement that could provide financial compensation to Boston.
Surrounding communities, unlike host communities, do not have veto power over casino proposals.
No Eastie Casino, the group that led the opposition to the casino in East Boston, has accused Suffolk Downs of trying to circumvent the casino law by shifting the proposal to Revere. The group asked the commission in a recent letter to immediately remove Suffolk Downs from consideration as a result of last week's vote.
The commission is wrestling with the general question of whether casino developers can make major changes in proposals without having to hold new referendums. The panel agreed on Thursday it would consider such scenarios on a case-by-case basis.
Rizzo, in a separate letter to the commission, said there was no need for another vote in his city because its agreement with Suffolk Downs had a clause allowing the deal to be amended if the casino moved to Revere.
The commission voted Thursday to approve Suffolk Downs' application for horse racing dates in 2014, even while Crosby acknowledged the casino question as the "elephant in the room." Track officials have said that without a casino they would have to reevaluate the future of racing.
Casino proposals from Wynn Resorts in Everett and Foxwoods in Milford are also vying for the eastern Massachusetts license, with the latter facing a referendum on Tuesday.