Petruccelli calls for a referendum

March 19, 2010
By

By John Lynds and Seth Daniel

A new casino at Suffolk Downs would essentially come down to a vote of the people in Revere and East Boston if State Sen. Anthony Petruccelli (D-Eastie) had his way.

Petruccelli – who has long been skeptical of a casino here – came out publicly this week in favor of the casino as long as there are strict conditions that are attached to such casino legislation.

One of those conditions would be a vote of the local communities – up or down.

“I would require a host community referendum vote that would determine if it goes or not,” he said on Monday in a meeting with the Journal. “I’ve put a lot of thought into it and my position has evolved over time to support casinos. However, I don’t think the position I hold should be the final arbiter on what could be the most significant land use change in Revere and East Boston since the development of the airport in the 1960s.”

Petruccelli said he was an early supporter of Racinos several years ago when he was in the state House of Representatives. Over the last couple of years, though, he said he has moved from supporting that type of extended gaming and towards full support for a casino.

His stipulation for a vote of the people is a new twist in the saga that has unfolded over the last few weeks since House Speaker Bob DeLeo (D-Winthrop) unveiled portions of his upcoming extended gaming bill.

When casino gambling was discussed two years ago, Revere City Councillors Doug Goodwin and George Rotondo moved to put a referendum vote on the city election ballot concerning gaming. However, it was pulled at the last minute and never happened.

This time, Petruccelli would like to see it happen before anything happens.

“It’s too big of an issue and too sweeping of a change for me to make without the people having the final say,” he reiterated. “If it is what we think it can be, it will pass. They’re going to have to do it right and sell it to the people for it to pass…Plus, a referendum vote creates an opportunity for this to be vetted out publicly.”

Mayor Tom Ambrosino said he had no problem with a vote of the people, saying he didn’t think it would get in the way of potentially siting a casino at Suffolk.

“I think it would pass overwhelmingly in Revere and I don’t know if that would be a big issue,” he said. “If that’s what the Legislature wants to put into law, I would certainly be voting for [a casino] in any referendum vote.”

Likewise, City Councillor John Powers – who formerly chaired the Revere Gaming Task Force – said any vote would be welcomed.

“I don’t think it would hurt,” he said. “That’s the Democratic way. How do I feel about it? I think it would pass and I would support it. I think a majority of the people would.”

Noting its potential for job creation, infrastructure improvements and a solid way to shore up the state’s $250 million thoroughbred industry, Petruccelli said officially this week that he would support a plan to construct a resort-style casino at Suffolk Downs Racetrack.

For several years now Petruccelli had remained cautiously pessimistic and carefully researched the impacts other casinos have had on local economies in other parts of the country. He weighed the pros and cons, but kept his opinion close to his vest.

Then, a few months back, Petruccelli said he bumped into an old friend who had recently lost a good paying job with benefits from DHL. The husband and father of two explained to Petruccelli how the historic downturn in the state and federal economy had hit his family very hard.

“It was right there and then I made my decision,” said Petruccelli. “I have an inherited task in my capacity as an elected official to help people get jobs and secure work when I can. The story of my friend and the fact that I have a huge stack of resumes on my desk from out-of-work constituents tells me we have to do something very soon to create jobs.”

In the end, and after months of internal debate, Petruccelli said the benefits far outweigh the risks.

“Suffolk Downs ownership predicts they could create 2,500 permanent jobs in the opening months of a casino,” he said.

Approval is but

the first step in building a casino

So far in the discussion about a casino at Suffolk Downs, it has been portrayed that once gaming is approved, a casino would seemingly be built overnight.

However, there might be a few bugs to work out before that could happen.

One of the major concerns for local businesses in Revere is the liquor license at the potential casino.

A few years back, with great controversy, Revere rolled back its liquor license hours from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m. Meanwhile, in Boston, the liquor license still sits at 2 a.m.

The hitch is that any casino at Suffolk Downs – though half in Revere – would be licensed by Boston. That, local business owners have said, would put them at a real competitive disadvantage.

Vincent Giachetti owns the Esquire Club just a few paces away from Suffolk Downs. In past discussions, he and other bar owners in Revere have felt they would be run out of business due to the difference in licenses.

Some in the inner circles have even suggested that casino developers would probably want a 24-hour license for everything.

Needless to say, a casino would have some wrinkles to work out.

“You know where that’s all going and it’s a whole conversation that will have to happen,” said State Sen. Anthony Petruccelli.

Added Ward 5 Councillor John Powers, “I think that’s something we have to intelligently look at.”

Mayor Tom Ambrosino said it was something that he hasn’t even thought about yet, but said he believed the rollback was set in stone.

“I would be surprised if the License Commission would re-think the rollback under any circumstances,” he said. “It’s an interesting thought, but it’s low on the list of things to think about concerning a casino right now.”

  • Anonymous

    The host community of Twin Rivers voted overwhelmingly against 24/7 365 gambling and liquor.

    In bankruptcy court Twin Rivers got 24/7 365 gambling/liquor.

    What the gambling industry doesn’t get initially, they whine, re-negotiate or get through the bankruptcy courts later.

    It’s called The Ladder Approach –
    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/2010/02/ladder-approach.html

    You’ve already witnessed the race tracks metamorphosis from simply adding slots to the tracks under the pretense of ‘saving racing’ or saving jobs, into what are now full blown casinos.

    Slot parlors by any name, whether racinos or the false label of ‘Destination Resorts’ are designed to get you in a seat feeding a machine, like a reverse ATM. Local discretionary income is absorbed, businesses close, restaurants are gone.

    Harrah’s discovered that 90% of their profits originated from 10% of their patrons. They targeted, promoted and enticed those patrons and created focus groups.

    Those are gambling addicts who deplete their savings and move on to steal or cheat family members and friends, embezzle from employers and commit other crimes to feed slot machines.

    The industry has never denied that statistic. And during a hearing in Gardner Hall, the best answer the Industry promoter, a former Harrah’s employee could come up with was not being aware of that statistic.

    Slot machines have been called the “Crack Cocaine of Gambling” for good reason.

    Ask yourselves, If Casinos pave the streets with gold, what happened to Atlantic City?
    Crime increased 80%, schools are failing, poverty is higher now than before casinos, the city is floundering.
    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/search/label/Atlantic%20City

    Las Vegas has the nation’s highest dropout rate. Nevada has low college graduation rates, poor reading scores, high suicides.

    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/search/label/Nevada
    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/search/label/Las%20Vegas

    Is that what we propose to emulate?

    70% Oppose CT Gambling Expansion
    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/2010/03/70-oppose-ct-gambling-expansion.html

    Don’t we have as much sense as CT residents?

    There is a great deal of information offered on this site:
    http://uss-mass.org/

    Before we accept empty promises, give serious consideration to the experience of others.

  • Anonymous

    The host community of Twin Rivers voted overwhelmingly against 24/7 365 gambling and liquor.

    In bankruptcy court Twin Rivers got 24/7 365 gambling/liquor.

    What the gambling industry doesn’t get initially, they whine, re-negotiate or get through the bankruptcy courts later.

    It’s called The Ladder Approach –
    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/2010/02/ladder-approach.html

    You’ve already witnessed the race tracks metamorphosis from simply adding slots to the tracks under the pretense of ‘saving racing’ or saving jobs, into what are now full blown casinos.

    Slot parlors by any name, whether racinos or the false label of ‘Destination Resorts’ are designed to get you in a seat feeding a machine, like a reverse ATM. Local discretionary income is absorbed, businesses close, restaurants are gone.

    Harrah’s discovered that 90% of their profits originated from 10% of their patrons. They targeted, promoted and enticed those patrons and created focus groups.

    Those are gambling addicts who deplete their savings and move on to steal or cheat family members and friends, embezzle from employers and commit other crimes to feed slot machines.

    The industry has never denied that statistic. And during a hearing in Gardner Hall, the best answer the Industry promoter, a former Harrah’s employee could come up with was not being aware of that statistic.

    Slot machines have been called the “Crack Cocaine of Gambling” for good reason.

    Ask yourselves, If Casinos pave the streets with gold, what happened to Atlantic City?
    Crime increased 80%, schools are failing, poverty is higher now than before casinos, the city is floundering.
    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/search/label/Atlantic%20City

    Las Vegas has the nation’s highest dropout rate. Nevada has low college graduation rates, poor reading scores, high suicides.

    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/search/label/Nevada
    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/search/label/Las%20Vegas

    Is that what we propose to emulate?

    70% Oppose CT Gambling Expansion
    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/2010/03/70-oppose-ct-gambling-expansion.html

    Don’t we have as much sense as CT residents?

    There is a great deal of information offered on this site:
    http://uss-mass.org/

    Before we accept empty promises, give serious consideration to the experience of others.

  • Anonymous

    The host community of Twin Rivers voted overwhelmingly against 24/7 365 gambling and liquor.

    In bankruptcy court Twin Rivers got 24/7 365 gambling/liquor.

    What the gambling industry doesn’t get initially, they whine, re-negotiate or get through the bankruptcy courts later.

    It’s called The Ladder Approach –
    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/2010/02/ladder-approach.html

    You’ve already witnessed the race tracks metamorphosis from simply adding slots to the tracks under the pretense of ‘saving racing’ or saving jobs, into what are now full blown casinos.

    Slot parlors by any name, whether racinos or the false label of ‘Destination Resorts’ are designed to get you in a seat feeding a machine, like a reverse ATM. Local discretionary income is absorbed, businesses close, restaurants are gone.

    Harrah’s discovered that 90% of their profits originated from 10% of their patrons. They targeted, promoted and enticed those patrons and created focus groups.

    Those are gambling addicts who deplete their savings and move on to steal or cheat family members and friends, embezzle from employers and commit other crimes to feed slot machines.

    The industry has never denied that statistic. And during a hearing in Gardner Hall, the best answer the Industry promoter, a former Harrah’s employee could come up with was not being aware of that statistic.

    Slot machines have been called the “Crack Cocaine of Gambling” for good reason.

    Ask yourselves, If Casinos pave the streets with gold, what happened to Atlantic City?
    Crime increased 80%, schools are failing, poverty is higher now than before casinos, the city is floundering.
    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/search/label/Atlantic%20City

    Las Vegas has the nation’s highest dropout rate. Nevada has low college graduation rates, poor reading scores, high suicides.

    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/search/label/Nevada
    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/search/label/Las%20Vegas

    Is that what we propose to emulate?

    70% Oppose CT Gambling Expansion
    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/2010/03/70-oppose-ct-gambling-expansion.html

    Don’t we have as much sense as CT residents?

    There is a great deal of information offered on this site:
    http://uss-mass.org/

    Before we accept empty promises, give serious consideration to the experience of others.

  • Anonymous

    Like most people, as a family, we don’t buy lottery tickets or scratch tickets, so gambling isn’t even
    in our existence, but I now know more about the adverse impacts of slots than
    I truly ever cared to. My bookcase is filled with books about the negative impacts.

    A recent survey indicated that 21% of Americans now believe the best way to
    achieve financial security is to use state-sponsored gambling products.
    How misguided is that?

    Is this the kind of business model we want to support when we need sustainable jobs that
    we can be proud to work, that provide a future?

    The promises of job creation are overstated.
    The promises of revenue are overstated.
    The promises of prosperity are overstated.

    Promoters insist money is lost to other states.
    Do you hear a similar claim about Massachusetts residents flocking to
    New Hampshire for major purchases or to buy liquor and cigarettes?

    For 44 years, Massachusetts residents have been streaming endlessly to
    New Hampshire to buy TVs, computers, building materials, and other high
    tickets items. There are so many Massachusetts license plates in southern
    New Hampshire that a first time visitor might think he was still in the Bay
    State. Yet no ne has spent millions of dollars to front a “Bring the Dollars
    Home” lobbying campaign to reduce the sales tax and “recapture” the
    revenue and the thousands of jobs that have been lost to New Hampshire.

    Casino capitalism didn’t work before.
    It won’t work now.

    Recently, I was struck by these words:

    When the Seneca Niagara Casino opened on New Year’s Eve 2002, it was
    surrounded by neighborhoods of rotting and dilapidated housing and
    vacant storefronts lined nearby Niagara Street.

    Eight years later, the view hasn’t really changed.

    …Simon, who has written a book on the economic development experiences
    of Atlantic City, said there are no silver bullets when it comes to revitalizing a
    blighted city.

    “(Niagara Falls) could have looked at Atlantic City, they could have looked at
    Detroit,” Simon said. “(Casinos) basically destroyed local business in Atlantic City.”

    Taken from:
    http://www.niagara-gazette.com/local/local_story_030231245.html

    As a consequence of the article, I purchased Bryant Simon’s book, “Boardwalk
    of Dreams,” a truly disappointing account of the failed Fools’ Gold of gambling.

    Slots are immensely profitable.
    Promoters can afford the best PR, the loudest lobbyists, the best polling firms to
    determine which words to use to elicit your support and the biggest shills to
    loudly promote their false claims.

    Let’s not be so blind to fall for it.

  • Anonymous

    Like most people, as a family, we don’t buy lottery tickets or scratch tickets, so gambling isn’t even
    in our existence, but I now know more about the adverse impacts of slots than
    I truly ever cared to. My bookcase is filled with books about the negative impacts.

    A recent survey indicated that 21% of Americans now believe the best way to
    achieve financial security is to use state-sponsored gambling products.
    How misguided is that?

    Is this the kind of business model we want to support when we need sustainable jobs that
    we can be proud to work, that provide a future?

    The promises of job creation are overstated.
    The promises of revenue are overstated.
    The promises of prosperity are overstated.

    Promoters insist money is lost to other states.
    Do you hear a similar claim about Massachusetts residents flocking to
    New Hampshire for major purchases or to buy liquor and cigarettes?

    For 44 years, Massachusetts residents have been streaming endlessly to
    New Hampshire to buy TVs, computers, building materials, and other high
    tickets items. There are so many Massachusetts license plates in southern
    New Hampshire that a first time visitor might think he was still in the Bay
    State. Yet no ne has spent millions of dollars to front a “Bring the Dollars
    Home” lobbying campaign to reduce the sales tax and “recapture” the
    revenue and the thousands of jobs that have been lost to New Hampshire.

    Casino capitalism didn’t work before.
    It won’t work now.

    Recently, I was struck by these words:

    When the Seneca Niagara Casino opened on New Year’s Eve 2002, it was
    surrounded by neighborhoods of rotting and dilapidated housing and
    vacant storefronts lined nearby Niagara Street.

    Eight years later, the view hasn’t really changed.

    …Simon, who has written a book on the economic development experiences
    of Atlantic City, said there are no silver bullets when it comes to revitalizing a
    blighted city.

    “(Niagara Falls) could have looked at Atlantic City, they could have looked at
    Detroit,” Simon said. “(Casinos) basically destroyed local business in Atlantic City.”

    Taken from:
    http://www.niagara-gazette.com/local/local_story_030231245.html

    As a consequence of the article, I purchased Bryant Simon’s book, “Boardwalk
    of Dreams,” a truly disappointing account of the failed Fools’ Gold of gambling.

    Slots are immensely profitable.
    Promoters can afford the best PR, the loudest lobbyists, the best polling firms to
    determine which words to use to elicit your support and the biggest shills to
    loudly promote their false claims.

    Let’s not be so blind to fall for it.

  • Anonymous

    Like most people, as a family, we don’t buy lottery tickets or scratch tickets, so gambling isn’t even
    in our existence, but I now know more about the adverse impacts of slots than
    I truly ever cared to. My bookcase is filled with books about the negative impacts.

    A recent survey indicated that 21% of Americans now believe the best way to
    achieve financial security is to use state-sponsored gambling products.
    How misguided is that?

    Is this the kind of business model we want to support when we need sustainable jobs that
    we can be proud to work, that provide a future?

    The promises of job creation are overstated.
    The promises of revenue are overstated.
    The promises of prosperity are overstated.

    Promoters insist money is lost to other states.
    Do you hear a similar claim about Massachusetts residents flocking to
    New Hampshire for major purchases or to buy liquor and cigarettes?

    For 44 years, Massachusetts residents have been streaming endlessly to
    New Hampshire to buy TVs, computers, building materials, and other high
    tickets items. There are so many Massachusetts license plates in southern
    New Hampshire that a first time visitor might think he was still in the Bay
    State. Yet no ne has spent millions of dollars to front a “Bring the Dollars
    Home” lobbying campaign to reduce the sales tax and “recapture” the
    revenue and the thousands of jobs that have been lost to New Hampshire.

    Casino capitalism didn’t work before.
    It won’t work now.

    Recently, I was struck by these words:

    When the Seneca Niagara Casino opened on New Year’s Eve 2002, it was
    surrounded by neighborhoods of rotting and dilapidated housing and
    vacant storefronts lined nearby Niagara Street.

    Eight years later, the view hasn’t really changed.

    …Simon, who has written a book on the economic development experiences
    of Atlantic City, said there are no silver bullets when it comes to revitalizing a
    blighted city.

    “(Niagara Falls) could have looked at Atlantic City, they could have looked at
    Detroit,” Simon said. “(Casinos) basically destroyed local business in Atlantic City.”

    Taken from:
    http://www.niagara-gazette.com/local/local_story_030231245.html

    As a consequence of the article, I purchased Bryant Simon’s book, “Boardwalk
    of Dreams,” a truly disappointing account of the failed Fools’ Gold of gambling.

    Slots are immensely profitable.
    Promoters can afford the best PR, the loudest lobbyists, the best polling firms to
    determine which words to use to elicit your support and the biggest shills to
    loudly promote their false claims.

    Let’s not be so blind to fall for it.

  • middlebororemembers

    The host community of Twin Rivers voted overwhelmingly against 24/7 365 gambling and liquor.

    In bankruptcy court Twin Rivers got 24/7 365 gambling/liquor.

    What the gambling industry doesn't get initially, they whine, re-negotiate or get through the bankruptcy courts later.

    It's called The Ladder Approach –
    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/2010/02

    You've already witnessed the race tracks metamorphosis from simply adding slots to the tracks under the pretense of 'saving racing' or saving jobs, into what are now full blown casinos.

    Slot parlors by any name, whether racinos or the false label of 'Destination Resorts' are designed to get you in a seat feeding a machine, like a reverse ATM. Local discretionary income is absorbed, businesses close, restaurants are gone.

    Harrah's discovered that 90% of their profits originated from 10% of their patrons. They targeted, promoted and enticed those patrons and created focus groups.

    Those are gambling addicts who deplete their savings and move on to steal or cheat family members and friends, embezzle from employers and commit other crimes to feed slot machines.

    The industry has never denied that statistic. And during a hearing in Gardner Hall, the best answer the Industry promoter, a former Harrah's employee could come up with was not being aware of that statistic.

    Slot machines have been called the “Crack Cocaine of Gambling” for good reason.

    Ask yourselves, If Casinos pave the streets with gold, what happened to Atlantic City?
    Crime increased 80%, schools are failing, poverty is higher now than before casinos, the city is floundering.
    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/search/

    Las Vegas has the nation's highest dropout rate. Nevada has low college graduation rates, poor reading scores, high suicides.

    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/search/
    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/search/

    Is that what we propose to emulate?

    70% Oppose CT Gambling Expansion
    http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/2010/03

    Don't we have as much sense as CT residents?

    There is a great deal of information offered on this site:
    http://uss-mass.org/

    Before we accept empty promises, give serious consideration to the experience of others.

  • middlebororemembers

    Like most people, as a family, we don't buy lottery tickets or scratch tickets, so gambling isn't even
    in our existence, but I now know more about the adverse impacts of slots than
    I truly ever cared to. My bookcase is filled with books about the negative impacts.

    A recent survey indicated that 21% of Americans now believe the best way to
    achieve financial security is to use state-sponsored gambling products.
    How misguided is that?

    Is this the kind of business model we want to support when we need sustainable jobs that
    we can be proud to work, that provide a future?

    The promises of job creation are overstated.
    The promises of revenue are overstated.
    The promises of prosperity are overstated.

    Promoters insist money is lost to other states.
    Do you hear a similar claim about Massachusetts residents flocking to
    New Hampshire for major purchases or to buy liquor and cigarettes?

    For 44 years, Massachusetts residents have been streaming endlessly to
    New Hampshire to buy TVs, computers, building materials, and other high
    tickets items. There are so many Massachusetts license plates in southern
    New Hampshire that a first time visitor might think he was still in the Bay
    State. Yet no ne has spent millions of dollars to front a “Bring the Dollars
    Home” lobbying campaign to reduce the sales tax and “recapture” the
    revenue and the thousands of jobs that have been lost to New Hampshire.

    Casino capitalism didn't work before.
    It won't work now.

    Recently, I was struck by these words:

    When the Seneca Niagara Casino opened on New Year’s Eve 2002, it was
    surrounded by neighborhoods of rotting and dilapidated housing and
    vacant storefronts lined nearby Niagara Street.

    Eight years later, the view hasn’t really changed.

    …Simon, who has written a book on the economic development experiences
    of Atlantic City, said there are no silver bullets when it comes to revitalizing a
    blighted city.

    “(Niagara Falls) could have looked at Atlantic City, they could have looked at
    Detroit,” Simon said. “(Casinos) basically destroyed local business in Atlantic City.”

    Taken from:
    http://www.niagara-gazette.com/local/local_stor

    As a consequence of the article, I purchased Bryant Simon's book, “Boardwalk
    of Dreams,” a truly disappointing account of the failed Fools' Gold of gambling.

    Slots are immensely profitable.
    Promoters can afford the best PR, the loudest lobbyists, the best polling firms to
    determine which words to use to elicit your support and the biggest shills to
    loudly promote their false claims.

    Let's not be so blind to fall for it.

Search the Journal


Recent Activity

Full Print Edition

Get Adobe Flash player