Suffolk Casino Proposal Awaits MGC Decision

December 4, 2013
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Will a casino at Suffolk Downs become a reality?  For the answer, taxpayers and elected officials of Revere will have to wait another week.

On Tuesday morning , the five-member Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) delayed a final vote on whether to allow Suffolk Downs as a landlord and Mohegan Sun as the casino license holder to have a Revere only casino.

Tuesday’s meeting ends for now a whirlwind trail of events that started last week when Suffolk Downs officials announced that Mohegan Sun would become the licensee of the Revere only casino.

In announcing the news last Wednesday, Richard Fields, principal owner of Suffolk Downs, said,  “This is a historic day for the City of Revere, Suffolk Downs and all of New England.” “By choosing Mohegan Sun as our resort casino developer and operator, we bring new energy and excitement to our pursuit of a gaming license – and a leader and premier brand in resort casino gaming that has been hugely successful in New England for 17 years.”

On Monday morning, elected officials of Revere as well as Fields and Suffolk COO Chip Tuttle and Mitchell Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority held a press conference in the Council Chambers in City Hall.

At the press conference Etess, stressed the commitment of the Mohegan Sun Corporation to adhere to a community’s  standards.  He also mentioned that Mohegan Sun has a unique advantage over many other competitors as they have a database ready to market with an established group of customers.

On Monday night, the Revere City Councillors unanimously approved (9-0 with Councillors Stephen Reardon and John Powers absent)  a motion calling for a resolution affirming support for a gaming establishment located off Winthrop Avenue (see related story below).

The Councillors also voted to send to committee an ordinance amending the zoning ordinance of the City of Revere to replace the definition of a “gaming facility”  with the following “gaming facility” means an establishment for the conduct of legalized gambling or gaming, including without limitation all gambling authorized pursuant to Mass. Gen. L. ch. 128A, Mass. Gen. L. ch. 128C, Mass. Gen. L. ch. 23K and 205 CMR 12.00 et seq.  Hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, bars, fitness centers, spas, central utility plants, photovoltaic systems, greenhouses, bus or railroad stations or connections thereto, surface and structured parking, cultural uses and entertainment, including live entertainment, when associated with legalized gambling shall be considered uses accessory and ancillary to legalized gambling at a gaming facility along with all other accessory and ancillary uses.  Each seat at a slot machine or table game within a gaming facility shall be referred to herein as a “gaming position.”.  This request was on the application of Sterling Suffolk Racecourse.

At Tuesday’s MGC meeting, Commissioner James McHugh said, “ Now this project is so fundamentally different in so many dimensions from the proposal the voters had before them, I am troubled by these issues.”

However, three other  Commissioners voiced their  opinions that  they did not believe that Revere would have to hold another referendum on the proposal.

MGC Chairman Stephen Crosby said, “I can’t see a reason to have Revere denied an opportunity to play their hand on this.   We will make a yes or no vote  … on whether there can be a Revere-only project.  Everyone wants to know if there can be a Revere-only project.  I think … we’ll try  to make a decision next week.”

Following the MGC meeting on Tuesday, Tuttle said,

“We are very encouraged about what we heard from the Commission today asserting Revere’s ability to move ahead and we look forward to providing additional information and to meeting again with the Commission next week.”

As the Journal was going to press, the Revere Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend to the City Council the adoption of the proposed zoning amendment to allow “gaming facilities” as of right within the PDD1 District along with associated dimensional requirements as outlined in Section 1 thru 10 of the proposed PDD1 District zoning ordinance amendment.  The PDD1 includes the Revere parcel of the Suffolk Downs property on Winthrop Avenue.

While the Planning Board decision under the law does not have the authority to approve the zoning amendment, its action does give the required change a substantial reason for the City Council to adopt the change.

The Zoning Sub-Committee of the Council is expected to vote on the proposal next Monday at its meeting and then it is expected that the entire Council will vote on the zoning change at its regularly scheduled meeting also on Monday.

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