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Vote decided fate of $1.3B casino plan
REVERE, Mass. — Voters in Revere approved a resort casino proposal on Tuesday, keeping alive Mohegan Sun’s $1.3 billion project and setting the stage for a competition with Wynn Resorts for the sole eastern Massachusetts resort casino license.

Watch the report

Unofficial returns showed more than 63 percent of city voters backing the casino, which would be built on land owned by the Suffolk Downs, said Mitchell Etess, chief executive of the Mohegan Sun Tribal Gaming Authority.

Etess told jubilant supporters at the racetrack that he now expected to convince state gambling regulators to award the Connecticut-based firm the license.

Read the referendum

“We’re going to win this license because our application to Massachusetts is unconditional,” Etess said. “We are ready to go.”

It was the second casino vote in Revere in recent months. In November, voters approved an earlier proposal from Suffolk Downs on the Boston-Revere line, but voters in the East Boston neighborhood rejected it. The new plan puts the proposed casino entirely in Revere.

Strong feelings were evident on both sides in the blue collar city of about 53,000 residents just north of Boston. Home to Revere Beach, the nation’s first public beach, the city has struggled economically in recent decades and had an estimated unemployment rate of 7.2 percent at the end of 2013, according to state figures.

Along a section of Broadway, one of the city’s main arteries, casino backers and foes held signs during the day Tuesday on opposite sides of the roadway, near a polling place. Motorists would occasionally honk horns to signal support for one group or the other.

Kevin Russell, a Revere resident and union carpenter, said the casino would be a “win-win” for the city, with the potential to create new jobs and generate revenue that would lead to lower property taxes and water bills. He dismissed critics’ concerns that the facility could bring an uptick in crime.

“They’re not going to build a billion-dollar casino to have bad elements there,” said Russell. “They want to bring in the good element with people coming from out of state, flying in, driving down.”

Members of Revere’s clergy came out strongly against the casino in recent weeks, citing the dangers of gambling addiction and other social ills.

“It’s a slayer of souls,” said the Rev. George Szal, of the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, as he held a sign urging a no vote. “It’s a slayer of families and ultimately of the community itself.”

Mayor Dan Rizzo said the casino would secure the city’s economic future for generations, pointing to a host community agreement with Mohegan Sun that would guarantee Revere up to $33 million in upfront payments and between $25 million and $30 million in annual payments if the casino was built.

“Today Revere said yes to Mohegan Sun,” Rizzo said. “Today Revere said yes to jobs. Today Revere said yes to better schools and safer streets.”

The victory also keeps alive, at least for now, the future of racing at Suffolk Downs. Officials at New England’s only thoroughbred track have said they will almost certainly be forced to end racing if the casino license is not awarded to Mohegan Sun.

“Second chances are a great thing in life,” said Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs, which almost saw its hopes dashed with the defeat in East Boston in November.

Tuesday’s vote was also a reversal of fortune for Mohegan Sun, which saw an earlier Massachusetts casino proposal rejected by the town of Palmer.

Wynn Resorts has proposed a $1.6 billion resort casino in Everett, barely three miles from the Revere site.

The gaming commission on Tuesday separately began final deliberations on the awarding of the license for the only slots parlor – a smaller type of casino – that is allowed under the state’s gambling law. The panel is choosing between proposals in Leominster, Plainville and Raynham, with a decision expected by Friday.

Voters head to polls Tuesday
House bill would allow one casino in state

REVERE, Mass. —nA large voter turnout is anticipated in Revere for a referendum on a proposed $1.3 billion resort casino.

The vote on Tuesday will determine whether Mohegan Sun can go forward with its plan to develop the facility on land owned by the Suffolk Downs racetrack. It would still need approval from the state gaming commission, which is also considering a proposal from Wynn Resorts in Everett for the sole eastern Massachusetts resort casino license.

An earlier plan by Suffolk Downs for a casino on the Boston-Revere border was rejected by voters in the East Boston neighborhood.

Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo says a host community agreement he signed with Mohegan Sun will secure the city’s economic future for generations to come.

But Joe Catricala, co-chair of Don’t Gamble on Revere, says a casino will bring more crime and traffic to the city.

Opponents of plan going door to door

REVERE, Mass. — The battle for votes in a casino fight in Revere is heating up during the final weekend before the vote.

Watch the report

Opponents of the plan have mobilized, going door to door and making phone calls, urging residents to vote against the plan.

“We don’t have a lot of money, we don’t have a lot of resources, we don’t have a ton of people,” Pastor Tim Bogertman, of First Congregational Church, said. “But we have a great group of people who are committed and we’re going up against a giant.”

Religious leaders have led the fight against the mayor and other leaders who say a casino would bring jobs to town.

“We’re very confident going into Tuesday that our voters will come out – similar to the way they did back on Nov. 5th and support this project,” said Mayor Dan Rizzo.

On Nov. 5, Revere voters did approve a casino plan at Suffolk Downs, but residents in East Boston voted against it.

That outcome prompted a new vote and a new plan, located entirely in Revere.

The referendum on the casino plan will be held on Tuesday.

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Slot Machines Casino

BOSTON —Three companies seeking state licenses to build resort casinos in Massachusetts have filed final applications with the state gaming commission.

Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts, both vying for the only eastern Massachusetts resort casino license, submitted their detailed applications on Tuesday, the deadline set by the panel.

Mohegan Sun’s proposed a $1 billion facility in Revere still requires a favorable vote by city residents in a Feb. 25 referendum.

Wynn has proposed a $1.2 billion resort in Everett.

MGM Resorts International, the only western Massachusetts applicant, submitted its more than 7,000 page application on Monday.

The commission will now spend several months reviewing the submissions, with licensing decisions likely in late May or June.

The panel has established several criteria for evaluating applications, including economic development, finances and design.

State clears Wynn for $1.2B resort casino in Everett

Company found suitable after background check

State gambling regulators on Friday cleared Wynn Resorts to continue its pursuit of a proposed $1.2 billion resort casino outside Boston.

The five-member Massachusetts Gaming Commission said in a unanimous decision that Wynn had provided “clear and convincing evidence that it meets the standards for suitability,” under the panel’s guidelines for would-be casino operators.

The commission’s investigative arm had previously recommended that the company, run by Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn, be found suitable for gambling after a lengthy background check that included a review of Wynn’s operations in the Chinese territory of Macau and issues surrounding a land deal Wynn negotiated with the owners of the proposed casino site in Everett.

Wynn did not immediately comment on Friday’s ruling, which clears the way for the company to submit a final casino application to the commission by the Tuesday deadline, though it does not guarantee the company will be awarded an operating license. It may be in competition with Mohegan Sun, which has proposed a casino on land owned by Suffolk Downs in Revere, for the sole eastern Massachusetts resort casino allowed under state law.

In its written decision, commissioners praised Wynn Macau for establishing policies and protocols for so-called junket operators and overall “responsible business practices” in the world’s most lucrative gambling market.

Junket operators recruit from the mainland for gambling in VIP rooms in Macau’s casinos, often providing credit to players. They have gotten the attention of regulators because of alleged connections to organized crime.

The commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau flagged concerns about a potential hidden ownership interest in the Everett site, a former chemical plant along the Mystic River, and has turned over its findings to state and federal prosecutors.

The panel earlier in the month approved a revised real estate deal that would substantially lower the original $75 million price Wynn had agreed to pay for the land while ensuring that no one with an undisclosed interest in the property would benefit from the sale.

Investigators said there was no evidence Wynn knew of the issues prior to the initial land deal and worked quickly to resolve the matter once it arose.

“While it could be argued that (Wynn) did minimal due diligence on the ownership of the land when it first executed its option, it is clear that once (Wynn) was made aware of the IEB’s concerns … it took immediate action to cure the situation,” the commissioners wrote in their decision.

Stephen Crosby, the commission’s chair, recused himself from the land deal vote because a friend and one-time business partner is among the co-owners of the property. But Crosby did participate in and sign the suitability decision, and has said he plans to be fully involved in the eastern Massachusetts licensing process.

Mohegan Sun won a favorable suitability determination earlier this year and was given permission to submit its application on Tuesday pending approval by Revere residents in a Feb. 25 referendum. The Revere-only casino plan emerged after East Boston voters rejected an earlier proposal by Suffolk Downs for a casino on the Boston-Revere border.