12.6.2013 Letter from Mayor Rizzo to the Mass Gaming Commission
December 7, 2013
RE: Proposed Casino at Suffolk Downs
Dear Chairman Crosby:
I would like to thank you and the Gaming Commission for taking the time at your meeting this week to discuss the resort casino proposed by Mohegan Sun for the Suffolk Downs property in Revere. I was very encouraged to hear comments from the Commissioners regarding the rights of Revere’s voters and our City’s enthusiastic support for a casino.
Long before the November 5th referendum, the City of Revere has supported expanded gaming within its borders. I use the term “expanded gaming” because Revere has hosted gaming operations for almost 80 years, and was the home to two separate racetracks until the closing of the Wonderland Greyhound Park in 2010. Revere’s elected leaders have been courting a casino for almost 20 years. In 1996, Revere became the only community in the Commonwealth with a zoning district allowing casino gaming – a district that included the Suffolk Downs property. The Revere City Council further rezoned the Suffolk Downs property in 2007 to keep pace with various proposals in the General Court regarding casino gaming.
Many in Revere – myself included – were disappointed that the original plans for a casino at Suffolk Downs did not include substantial development on the Revere side of the property. Prior to the November 5th referendum, I made numerous public statements expressing my hope that Revere would receive more gaming development in the future. Many community leaders and residents in Revere expressed similar sentiments during the referendum campaign. As noted by Chairman Crosby at this week’s meeting, our Host Community Agreement “practically begs” for additional development in Revere. This was by design.
You should also know that during the course of negotiating our Host Community Agreement, my administration and representatives from Suffolk Downs regularly discussed the prospect of having the project situated entirely within Revere, in the event that the East Boston referendum prevented a two-community project. The re-opener provisions in our Host Community Agreement were specifically drafted to allow for a pivot of the project to Revere. While the City and Suffolk Downs aggressively supported a two-community project, a Revere-only development was clearly a possibility that we anticipated and incorporated into our Host Community Agreement.
On November 5th, over 60% of Revere voters supported the development of a gaming establishment at the Suffolk Downs property off of Winthrop Avenue in Revere. The summary printed on each ballot used at the election clearly stated that the Host Community Agreement would be reopened if the gaming establishment was expanded on the Revere side of the Suffolk Downs property. Voters then affirmed what I have known for a long, long time and that is, their support for hosting a gaming establishment within our borders. They also delegated to me as their Mayor, the authority to negotiate additional mitigation in the event that a project change resulted in increased gaming development at Suffolk Downs.
As I mentioned at your meeting this week, not one single Revere resident (at least up until yesterday when I received one email in opposition) has contacted me to question whether Suffolk Downs and Mohegan Sun can proceed with the project based upon the vote on November 5th. To the contrary, everywhere I go in Revere, residents come up to me and express their support for the project and their excitement that the casino will be situated entirely within Revere.
Since November 5th, Revere’s elected leaders have joined me in taking every step necessary to carry out the will of the voters. On December 2nd, the Revere City Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution in support of the project proposed by Mohegan Sun at the Suffolk Downs property, and in support of the validity of the November 5th referendum. On December 3rd, the Revere Planning Board voted unanimously in favor of a zoning amendment affecting the Suffolk Downs property, as proposed by Suffolk Downs and Mohegan Sun. I expect that the City Council will vote later this month to pass the zoning amendment requested for the project.
In addition to our voters and elected officials, the business community in Revere whole-heartedly favors expanded gaming at Suffolk Downs. I invite you, or a designee, to come to Revere to speak with some of our local business leaders about this issue. I am confident that you will come away with an appreciation for Revere’s strong and continuing support for Mohegan Sun’s project at Suffolk Downs, which will be a catalyst for additional economic development in our City.
The project proposed at Suffolk Downs will create 2,500 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs, with a preference given to Revere residents. Mohegan Sun is one of Connecticut’s largest employers and has a strong track record of hiring and training local employees, and working with local businesses, community leaders and cultural and tourist organizations. A resort casino in Revere will help re-energize our regional economy (one of the hardest hit by the economic downturn) through job creation, economic development opportunities, and tens of millions of dollars in transportation improvements.
Finally, between elections in a representative democracy, it is incumbent upon our elected officials to uphold the will of the people. In Revere, our City Councilors and I, as Mayor, are unanimous in this understanding, belief, and desire. Because of Revere’s longstanding support for casino gaming within its borders, and because of the great benefits a casino at Suffolk Downs will bring to Revere and the region, Revere’s elected leaders and I will continue to represent the overwhelming majority of voters who turned out on November 5th to say YES to expanded gaming in Revere.
I thank the Gaming Commission for its consideration of these comments.