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Suffolk Downs outspending opponents by better than 30-1 on November casino question

Chip Tuttle and cops

Tuttle talks while cops keep order.

Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle estimated tonight his company has spent about $1 million trying to convince East Boston residents to vote in favor of a casino at his racetrack. Organizers of No Eastie Casino in turns told members of the Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association they have spent less than $30,000 on their campaign against the proposal.

In contrast to a pro-casino rally in Revere a few nights earlier, no noses were broken at the association forum. The moderator of the event started out by laying down ground rules for civility; anybody being uncivil would be shown the door. To drive the point home, five uniformed police officers also kept watch over the generally mild-mannered crowd.

There was only one real outburst, when one man accused an anti-casino organizer of being "a traitor" because, he said, she handed over voter rolls to an official from the Salvadoran consulate. She said she had done no such thing.

Tuttle promoted the proposed $1-billon casino as a boon to the neighborhood and the city: 4,000 jobs, lots of green space, traffic improvements and even more money for gambling addiction, which he said would not increase with a casino because addicts in Massachusetts already have plenty of avenues for feeding their addiction.

And the casino will be the greenest ever, with the largest collection of solar panels on the East Coast and a system for turning all waste food into energy. Also, the horses will continue to race. And East Boston would get $20 million out of the $32 million to $52 million the project would pay Boston each year. Compare that, he said, to the $2.4 million the Red Sox pay each year in property taxes, he said.

He warned that if the casino doesn't go through, the track could close and the site could see a far more intensive mixed-use development project than a resort casino with two hotels.

One of the opponents, Matt Cameron, dropped a copy of the 200-page agreement between Suffolk Downs and the city on the ground, where it fell with a loud thud. Residents, he said, were almost entirely left out of the negotiations between the racetrack and the city and East Boston voters will be asked on Nov. 5 to approve something for which planning and criminal background checks aren't even finished, he said, adding that one of the investors in the project is Vornado, the company responsible for "the smoking hole" where Filene's used to be downtown.

No Eastie Casino
Cameron, Curtis, Myers of No Eastie Casino.

Another No Eastie Casino organizer, Jessica Curtis, said the agreement talks a lot about "best efforts," which means there are no guarantees the city or East Boston will see all the revenue and jobs they've been promised. She said any increases in local jobs from the casino will be offset by job losses at neighborhood small businesses; traffic improvements offset by increased asthma from the exhausts of all those added cars. She added that all the decisions on how to spend East Boston's money will be made by people "on the other side of the harbor" and asked why East Boston residents should put themselves in a position to be dominated by Massport on one side and the casino on the other.

Group Co-Chair Celeste Ribeiro Myers said the money promised East Boston amounts to $400 a year per resident. She asked if that would be worth it to somebody who loses a job due to competition from the casino - or who has a child hit by a car driven by a drunk coming out of it.

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Comments

Yummmm... orangizers

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Um, er, fixed!

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And East Boston would get $20 million out of the $32 million to $52 million the project would pay Boston each year.

The Host Community Agreement only calls for 50% of the Community Impact Trust to be dedicated to East Boston. (Link to HCA Summary) This trust will receive $20 million per year after full build out and it will be administered by the City Auditor, Treasurer/Collector, and Budget Supervisor, not by any East Boston residents. They call us the host community, but we're really just the voting community.

Suffolk Downs has been using this $20m/yr to East Boston figure in newspaper advertisements and on their website without any accountability by the gaming commission or the city. When you realize that only $10m/yr is actually promised, they don't look so good. Instead of comparing themselves to the Red Sox who use their stadium less than 100 nights of the year, they should compare themselves to other casino proposals that want to run 24 hour operations. Here is a summary of the promised annual mitigation money to each town: Milford - $35mil, Everett - $25mil, Revere - $15mil, East Boston - $10mil, and that leaves the big winner of the rest of Boston expecting $42mil per year.

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Okay, I read what you linked to, and it looks like it is both more and less money that you say.

$33.4 million goes straight to East Boston, but this is a one time (over 4 installments) amount to help infrastructure in the neighborhood, and East Boston alone.
$32 in annual Host Community Agreement fees, which can be a lot higher, but the math on that ($1 billion in revenue?!) is questionable.
$20 in Community Impact Trust. This is the money that should be dealing with things like restaurants losing money, the need for more police in the area, and the like. This is where you get your $10 million, but surely the other $10 million will have something to do with the area. It's not like the City can say that Neponset needs a few million each year in casino impact money.

Can you really compare the $52 million Boston will get to, say, the $25 million Everett will get? Will East Boston only get $10 million in annual mitigation money, or will it get all $20 million?

Oh course, my view, as a non Eastie person, is that if Everett gets the casino, East Boston and Boston as a whole will get a nice round $0 of the mitigation money, but East Boston will probably not be affected by the Everett casino.

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Yes, they did their best to make this agreement as confusing as possible. My argument is focusing on the annual mitigation payments, since these go on for at least 15 years and make up the bulk of the mitigation. Since the other towns dealing with casino proposals are about same population as East Boston (Milford is actually much smaller), you would expect East Boston to receive similar mitigation. However, since East Boston is a neighborhood of Boston, the money actually all goes to Boston.

Boston is expecting $52 mil/yr in total payments if revenues are high (minimum of $32 mil/yr). Of that payment, $20 mil/yr goes into a Community Impact Trust. Of that Community Impact Trust 50% or $10 mil is dedicated to East Boston. The other $10 mil can be spent on any community impacts, which could be in East Boston or they could be to help North End businesses or they could go to Downtown tourism. The fact is they wrote the law to only promise $10 million to the "host community". And no one in the neighborhood has a say on how it will be spent.

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Since you included a link to an article about the unfortunate incident in Revere, I thought this more detailed article should also be available. It gives a little more background and tells both sides.

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but if Charlie Lightbody is who you see as an example of the hard working men and women who don't want the casino, you'd better look again. Lightbody has been a known,shall we say....individual of questionable moral character since I was in high school there.

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I had never heard this guy's name until this week and I think what he did was terrible, but I thought the link was appropriate to share.

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And this doesn't include all the money that Suffolk Downs has given in contributions (in other countries they are called bribes) to Menino and many other politicians.

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One thing I learned in sales is to never ever bank on a customer's promise. The same goes for a salesperson's promises as well. Until the dollars are in the bank a paper contract is worth the value of the paper and nothing.

I realize the question of where the money is coming from has been beaten to death but why not a few more kicks? All these millions are coming from somewhere. Where? The pockets of locals. Of the 50 to 100 millions that the casino will suck away from local businesses most of it will leave the Commonwealth. A few millions (assuming that actually happens) will be turned over to the city. Will that return to local businesses? Only the multimillionaire local businesses that already benefit from having hands too deep into the city's coffers via constructions projects and political loyalties. A few hundred low wage service jobs will be created for the casinos and hotels but most are low wage comparable to fast food and Walmart wages. Most money will go into the casino owners pockets (why else would they build?) The casino will not add any manufacturing capacity nor create an environment for the investment value of neighborhood ownership. The jobs will be mostly low pay service jobs. The communities will not see property increases, there will be no echoing investment increases.

A single casino on the eastern side of Massachusetts will not turn into an Atlantic City of the north or a Las Vegas via New England. It will most likely turn become something closer to the hulking slots parlor in Newport, Rhode Island that is a gambling addicts second home.

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Casino developers disclosed $1.1 million in a regulatory filing earlier this year.

http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/mass_roundu...

There should be another filing ahead of the casino referendum.

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If they had spent over $1 million during 2012, doesn't that mean they've spent more by now? Am I missing something?

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He warned that if the casino doesn't go through, the track could close and the site could see a far more intensive mixed-use development project than a resort casino with two hotels.

The horror... the horror...

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In the environmental impact statement, they give a future where the track becomes economically unfeasible and closes. The property get redeveloped, since property has value. Theoretically, it gets rebuilt as mixed residential and commercial/office space. The short is that there would be a lot more traffic compared to the casino. Therefore, the strictly environmental impact of the casino is better. As for other impacts, that's a different story.

I (admittly a non-Eastie person, therefore my opinion is less) support the casino for 2 reasons. I want the track to survive and perhaps thrive, a la Parx or Presque Isle Downs. Second, as I would be equally impacted by an Everett or Eastie casino, I would like to see Boston, and specifically Eastie, get the monetary benefits. If Everett gets the license, the gamblers in my part of Boston would do their thing.

Being back the Mass Cap!

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Does anyone know if the Race Horse Development Fund that is established by the gaming act will provide enough money to keep horse racing viable at tracks that don't have a casino? Suffolk Downs says that they can't keep horse racing without thousands of slot machines, but with this extra support and some creativity couldn't the track stay open another way?

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Don't require parking! A redeveloped Suffolk Downs would have not just two Blue Line rapid transit stops (Suffolk Downs and Beachmont) just 10 minutes' ride from downtown; but it would also have multiple express buses coming down 1A from the North Shore, heading for the Airport, Haymarket, Seaport, South Station, and/or Downtown Crossing.

There's even already a supermarket (and whole shopping center) in walking distance.

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If they could build another Day Square, that would be nice.

But instead it would inevitably be huge buildings with a huge parking garage.

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Nov3rd 2013 will be here before you even know it! There are skeptics, Undecided voters out there, they see these million dollar mitigation figures, but there thinking, sounds too good to be true, and the what if's.What if casino owners fall on these promises, due to loss business.Nothing is certain, You have to be a complete moron to believe all these perks and millions that will be handed out to East Boston and Revere. East Boston is in the ongoing process of reshaping the waterfront, reconstruction of central park, already have in place a multimillion dollar health center, a renewed East Boston stadium, bremen street park /greenway, a park that anyone in other neighborhoods wishes for, a new multimillion dollar library, Just think , East Boston has waited decades to see these things happen, to have a Casino, everything will go to the wayside,In 1983 East Boston Police station7 was going to close due to prop 2 1/2, back then I can remember East Boston was being treated by city hall as it was its step child, Who remembers the Yellow surplus fire trucks?? The cracked sidewalks that were never fixed for years,meanwhile south boston had all the fancy light poles and brick sidewalks installed, East Boston has been patient all these years.

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