Expanded Gambling Bill Advances; Senate Follows House with Study

September 21, 2011
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The expanded gaming bill that might have the end result of a casino opening at Suffolk Downs was passed by the House last week and is now in the Senate where its particulars are being examined before an expected vote at the end of the month.

The Senate is believed ready to pass the bill, which would then be sent to the governor for his signature.

According to the bill’s language, a casino at Suffolk Downs would designate Revere and East Boston as host cities and would make available 6.5% of casino revenues to be divided equally by the two cities from year to year.

It has the potential of bringing many millions of dollars into the Revere city treasury at a time when the city is hard pressed to meet the growing cost of its huge fixed expenses.

“I am in favor of a casino at Suffolk Downs,” said mayoral candidate George Rotondo. “It will put trades people to work. It will create more jobs for those needed to run the casino and it will be a boom to business for suppliers of every kind. It will be an economic plus for this area. We need it. It makes sense. I am absolutely in favor of this bill,” Rotondo added.

Rotondo said the city must be prepared to deal with the other side of gambling.

“A casino at Suffolk Downs is an economic plus but it comes with a price like any other major investment. The best possible counseling services must be available for those who cannot control themselves. As a care-giver myself, I know the necessity for this and will work toward this goal,” he said.

Mayoral candidate Dan Rizzo said he, too, has been in favor of a casino at Suffolk Downs and is a staunch supporter of the legislation that recently passed the House.

“I understand fully the value of such a development at Suffolk Downs,” he told the Journal.

“Revere can certainly this type of investment,” he added. “We need jobs and we need them as soon as possible.”

If Suffolk Downs ultimately received a license to open a casino at Suffolk Downs its owners will have to invest $500 million dollars of private money into the development.

In addition, a $100 million licensing fee will have to be paid.

According to the legislation, a referendum will have to be conducted in Revere and in East Boston – a literal up or down vote by the people – which will determine whether or not a casino can exist in Revere and in East Boston.

The cost for that referendum will be born by the casino applicants who will pay the state $1.5 million for the privilege of applying.

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