Mayors Object to Casino Being Phased-In

August 29, 2012
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Timing is everything, and Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo and Boston Mayor Tom Menino are seriously questioning the timing of a resort casino at Suffolk Downs – so much so that both said they might not support a casino that isn’t rolled out all at once in a resort format.

Both mayors chimed in last week concerning the proposed phasing in of a casino at Suffolk if it gets a gaming license, saying they need more information about that plan or they might not support the casino.

Menino was the first to draw blood in the matter, saying to the Boston Globe that a phased in approach would cut down on the “wow” factor and would not serve the right customer base he envisions.

“I will not support a phased-in casino,” said Menino, in a Globe interview last week. “The product that is right for us in Boston is a full resort destination that provides complete economic development for the area.”

The following day, Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo indicated in the Boston Herald that he felt the same way.

“There’s a lot of information that both communities have been seeking that has not been provided,” said Rizzo in the Herald. “The documents they gave us are very vague. We want to see more detail.

“We view this project as a $1 billion, all-in resort-style casino,” Rizzo continued. “For them to backpedal puts my support for this project in jeopardy. I hope they’ll stick to their plans.”

Meanwhile, Suffolk Chief Operating Officer Chip Tuttle told the Journal that Suffolk would work as fast as the City and state will let them.

“If we’re able to earn a license for our proposed $1 billion project, the timing of when we would open a resort development is ultimately up to the city in which the development is cited – in this case Boston, the Gaming Commission and the State of Massachusetts,” he said. “We are committed to a world-class destination resort and will continue to work to address the concerns of our host communities.”

Meanwhile, the grass roots resident group Revere’s Fair Share sided with both mayors, saying the organization would consider a phased-in casino unacceptable.

“As we mentioned on Tuesday evening, a phased approach is unacceptable,” said Spokesman Nick DeLena. “It would be disingenuous to call the development a ‘destination resort casino’ if only the slots and table games are open with the ‘resort’ coming later. We believe that so much more can be done with the Revere side of the Suffolk Downs property, and that all phases of this project – casino, restaurants, East Boston hotel, Revere hotel – should be completed and opened simultaneously. The people of both cities deserve nothing less.”

Both mayors and officials at Suffolk Downs have agreed to meet this week to talk more in-depth about the plans and their timing.

Both mayors went from all-in on a casino to one foot out following comments made by Caesar’s Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Gary Loveman in a Boston Globe article earlier this summer.

In that article, Loveman indicated that he envisioned a two-phase development where slots and table games would come first in the old Suffolk Downs building, and then the resort would come about one year later.

Caesar’s, who is a partner in the Suffolk casino bid, has only about a 4 percent stake in the operation and has been designated only as the manager of the gaming facility, and not the developer. The largest stakeholders are track owners Richard Fields and Joe O’Donnell.

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