Reality Versus Casino Mitigation

February 2, 2012
By

The city is right now faced with the task of creating a mitigation package of possible benefits to be derived from a going casino if it ultimately locates at Suffolk Downs.

These are benefits other than those mandated by the expanded gambling bill that was passed into law a few months back after years of endless debate.

This task is being handled primarily by the city’s Development Director John Festa.

Festa is being aided by City Council President Richard Penta. The council en masse will take the message concerning mitigation to residents of their wards.

Mayor Dan Rizzo will be the ultimate bottom line as to what will be sought in the first instance and what will be placed on a second tier and on and on.

There is the very real and compelling likelihood that Suffolk Downs will gain a license to operate as a casino when all is said and done with the process.

Mitigation is the first part of the process, that is, detailing what exactly might be anticipated when a casino is up and running, spinning off a new flow of tax revenue to the state and filling its mitigation account as well.

This we know, the tendency is always to ask for and to expect far too much. To be kept in mind up front and high is that it will take a while for a casino at Suffolk Downs or anywhere else in Massachusetts for that matter to generate revenue – and so – it is impossible to know what amount of revenue is going to be generated and exactly how much in profits will be accrued.

Therefore, it is difficult to impossible to know what the casino is going to be willing to do for Revere, East Boston, Winthrop and Chelsea – the mitigation town and cities.

That being said, the Revere wish list is being put together and from all early accounts, it will be substantial, spread over many pages and including items like a new stadium, a new city yard, new roads and lighting, giant gifts to local charities as well as the creation of dozens of scholarships for Revere High School graduates. In addition, councilors and residents will be calling for the casino to take care literally of whatever the city’s needs are.

This isn’t a bad thought. What is bad is thinking that a casino at Suffolk Downs is going to solve all the city’s problems.

This isn’t going to happen, not in a lifetime hoping it will.

What is going to happen?

The city will hopefully come up with a reasonable proposal that is fair for the city and fair for the casino owners who need to come up with $500 million of their own private money before they’ve earned a dime in revenue.

If Revere’s asks are fair, it will be impossible for them to be turned down or ridiculed.

If the city’s asks are outrageous then we will be biting the hand set to feed us with jobs, capital investment and an economic boost unlike any other to arise in this area in more than 100 years.

We urge everyone involved in this process to keep a clear head and to understand that everything that glitters isn’t gold.

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