Prepare for Another Casino Vote, This Time Only in Revere

The gambling commission demanded Revere revote on a refashioned Suffolk Downs proposal.

Get ready for another casino referendum on Suffolk Downs, this one in Revere.

When East Boston voters rejected a proposed casino project at Suffolk Downs this November even as Revere voters approved it, Suffolk Downs quickly refashioned their plans to put the casino entirely on the Revere side of the city line. But, as our own Jason Schwartz ably explained at the time, that raised a question: Revere voters had approved a referendum for a casino that was largely in East Boston by a margin of 61-39 percent in favor. Was their approval enough now, given the new plan to put the casino squarely in their territory?

Both Suffolk Downs’ people and the Revere mayor predictably argued that it was. Suffolk Downs doesn’t want voters to have a second chance to reject them, and the city stands to gain a lot of money that the casino had once earmarked for Boston. Today, however, the state gambling commission decided that the proposal wasn’t close enough to the one Revere voters approved. The Boston Globe reports:

During a hearing today, gambling Commissioner James McHugh argued that the five-member panel should hear anew from Revere voters because the new project had changed substantially from what was on the table when Revere voted last month.

The panel should “treat the proposal for what it is– a different and new proposal,” said McHugh.

Even so, Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle, Mayor Rizzo, and Mohegan Sun, which would operate the casino, sounded positive in statements sent out after the decision. “it is gratifying that the Commission has provided this option to move forward with the City of Revere where we have enjoyed substantial support,” Tuttle said for instance.

That’s not a huge surprise. A vote is a potential hurdle, but Revere approved the proposal 61-39 back when the city of Boston was getting most of the financial carrots being offered. Now that the project has moved slightly across the town line and Revere stands to gain that money, its hard to imagine voters having a sudden change of heart.

So here we are, facing another debate between casino supporters and detractors, one in which Boston will be keeping a close eye given its proximity to the project. It’ll likely be in February, the Globe reports, and now that the debate is entirely within Revere, and without the distraction of a lot of other elections on the same ballot, it’ll be interesting to see how the vote shifts.

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