12/28/2013 2:12PM

Suffolk casino vote set for Feb. 25


EAST BOSTON, Mass.– Voters in the City of Revere will go back to the polls on Feb. 25, 2014, to decide whether Mohegan Sun’s proposal to develop a $1 billion destination resort casino at Suffolk Downs may move forward.

The referendum is on the new host community agreement (HCA) reached on Dec. 23 that would give the city up to $30 million annually, an up-front payment of $33 million, and about $45 million in infrastructure improvements should Mohegan Sun be awarded the single casino license designated for the Greater Boston area.

Voters in Revere already approved a casino project at the 78-year-old racetrack, which straddles that city and East Boston on Nov. 5, but residents of East Boston resoundingly rejected it. Subsequent to the referenda, Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs teamed up, planned to move the entire project to the Revere side of the racetrack grounds, and negotiated the new HCA.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission then ruled that the revised plan needed to go back to the voters of Revere for approval.

“For close to 80 years, the city of Revere has been a great partner and host to Suffolk Downs,” Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs, said in a statement. “This campaign will be about affirming the strong support Revere has already shown for a resort casino and the preservation of Thoroughbred racing at Suffolk Downs.”

Mohegan Sun would own and operate the gaming operation and Suffolk Downs would be the landlord should they win the license. As Mohegan Sun does not currently hold a pari-mutuel license in Massachusetts, it is not required to continue live racing and officials have stated the casino giant has no interest in doing so. Nonetheless, Suffolk officials maintain that they hope to safeguard live racing.

In related news, the competition between Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts for the lucrative sole Boston area casino license for gaming commission entered the next phase after the gaming commission declared on Dec. 27 that officials of Wynn Resorts passed their background check and are suitable to hold a gaming license.

Steve Wynn has proposed a $1.3 billion casino in the City of Everett, which is only two miles from Revere. Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs previously passed their background checks and were deemed suitable.

Detailed development plans as part of the Phase 2 applications are due on Dec. 31. The gaming commission is scheduled to award the Boston casino license in May.