Barring any major changes, the Revere City Council will vote at its Sept. 16 meeting to set the citywide casino referendum vote for Nov. 5 – the same day as the City Election.
Council President Ira Novoselsky confirmed this week that the Council would follow Boston in scheduling a vote, and that vote will likely take place on Nov. 5.
Novoselsky said the request came over for a referendum from Suffolk Downs at a meeting last Tuesday night, Sept. 3, and the Council will act next week on that request.
“The date will be voted next Monday, Sept. 16, and right now it looks like that vote will take place on Nov. 5,” he said.
Having the vote on the City Election date does present some difficulties, as the casino proponents have to pay for the costs of that portion of the election. City officials didn’t immediately comment on how they would divide up those costs, but it’s likely Suffolk Downs would kick in an agreed upon estimated cost for their portion of the election in Revere – perhaps based on the cost of similar, previous elections.
It also means that a more general audience would likely be taking part in the referendum – something that wouldn’t likely happen if the referendum stood on its own. Conversely, the referendum vote happening on City Election day could end up driving voter participation much higher than anyone expected, causing campaigns to have to re-strategize and re-identify their voting blocks.
Having the referendum on Nov. 5 in East Boston – or perhaps all of Boston – has far more serious consequences to existing political races. In Boston, there is an open mayoral seat for the first time in a generation, and voter participation in all neighborhoods is expected to be extremely high already.
Either way, setting the date on Nov. 5 will ensure much more participation from both communities than was originally expected for the casino referendum.
The intended vote date was announced after a successful public meeting last Tuesday, Sept. 3, where Mayor Dan Rizzo outlined the proposal to the Council at an informational meeting.
After his presentation, though some councillors expressed frustrations with the Host Community Agreement, Rizzo scored a major victory in getting a 11-0 unanimous vote of confidence.
“As the casino goes, so goes the City of Revere,” said the mayor, referring to the fact that the City’s payments are based on the performance of the casino. “If they hit $1.5 billion (in gross gaming revenues) the City’s share is 2 percent or $30 million. This agreement is essentially for 28 percent of what is proposed. Because of geography, the City of Revere will have no casino construction in the first stages. It’s not your fault or my fault. We just only have 28 percent of the land and that’s how the site is situated…We’ve seen other casinos expand and it’s your hope and my hope they expand on the Revere side and we can open up this agreement again…We have no casino within our borders and no casino on our land and we’re going to get [millions]. We have real opportunity and a serious upside.”
Most councillors agreed with the mayor and congratulated his administration on successfully negotiating the agreement.
Novoselsky and Ward 1 Councillor Richard Penta – who represent the closest wards to the track – both expressed their satisfaction with the agreement.
It wasn’t all hugs and kisses though.
Councillor Stephen Reardon, while eventually supporting the agreement, said he didn’t think it was a fair deal at all and that Revere would get just as many problems as Boston.
“The pickpocket isn’t going to ask his victim to wait to get to Mattapan with him to be held up,” said Reardon. The prostitute isn’t going to stop and ask her ‘John’ to meet her in West Roxbury. The drug dealer isn’t going to take his drug deal to Jamaica Plain. They’re going to do these things in our community of Revere, which has 53,000 residents, and in East Boston, with 40,000. These are the people who will really feel the impacts.”
Councillor Brian Arrigo joined him in being somewhat frustrated with the agreement, especially the numbers and benchmarks for gross gaming revenues that determine payments to the City.
“Everything is based on them hitting $1 billion in gross gaming revenues,” he said. “Caesars doesn’t have a facility that does $500 million a year. The reality may not be as bright as what is portrayed.”
The Revere Host Community Agreement and the Host Community Agreement summary can be found on the Journal’s website (www.reverejournal.com) in the ‘Hard Copy’ section.