City Council Will Leave the Casino Vote to East Boston

Some people wanted the whole city of Boston to weigh in on a referendum.

With a 12-1 vote, Boston’s City Council decided to keep the vote on a proposed casino at Suffolk Downs to just East Boston residents, rather than allow the entire city’s electorate to weigh in. This is likely good news for those in favor of the casino.

Some mayoral candidates and city council members had suggested that the vote be opened to the entire city, arguing that the impact of the casino will be felt beyond East Boston. State law mandates that the vote be open to just East Boston residents unless city council and the mayor say differently. (And you can bet Mayor Menino, a Suffolk Downs advocate, wasn’t inclined to say differently.)

“What if the whole city votes to support this casino, and East Boston votes no?” East Boston Councilor Salvatore LaMattina asked during debate … which could happen, but sort of misrepresents the way the pro-casino and anti-casino forces aligned on the issue. Anti-casino mayoral candidates and councilors hoped the entire city would weigh in on the proposal, thinking it would offer better odds of standing in its way. Suffolk Downs executives, meanwhile, praised today’s council vote restricting it to just East Boston. So sure, Boston might have forced a casino unto an unwilling Eastie. More likely, a willing Eastie will bring a casino upon itself.