Revere, Mass. Votes in Favor of Suffolk Downs Casino Plan

(NECN: Peter Howe, Revere, Mass.) - A bigger win with more voters casting ballots than three months ago is what Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs can claim after Tuesday’s big victory, with Revere, Mass. voters backing the $1 billion planned Mohegan casino at the Revere end of the 79-year-old horse track.

According to complete but unofficial numbers from the Revere Election Commission, 7,171 Revere voters voted yes for the casino, 4,172 no, a 63.2 percent to 36.8 percent win for the plan.

That compares to a 60.8-39.2 percent win in November, with 545 fewer people voting than did Tuesday, when the question was on a different casino at the East Boston end of Suffolk Downs, with Revere as a co-host-community, and Caesars Entertainment as the project developer.

Now, the race is on for Revere casino backers to argue it’s effectively just as solid an expression of community support for the casino as the 86 percent ‘yes’ vote Wynn Resorts won in Everett in June 2013 for its planned casino on the north banks of the Mystic River.

“More people voted yes here in Revere than actually voted in Everett, so I think you can look at a lot of different things. This was overwhelming support of this casino by a community that clearly wants it, that has a very long history and tradition of gaming and hospitality and I think that speaks for itself,” said Mohegan Sun CEO Mitchell Etess in a post-victory-party interview at the Suffolk Downs Topsider Room.

Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo said as the Gaming Commission evaluates whether Mohegan or Wynn should win the sole Eastern Massachusetts casino license, the level of community support will be one of many factors.

“They really have to look at the dynamics. I mean, Everett held their vote on a sunny Saturday in June. We asked our voters to come out in November once and then again a second time in the middle of one of the worst winters we've had a very cold day in the middle of February, and they came out in larger numbers than they did back on November fifth,” Rizzo said. “So I think that says a lot about the commitment we have here in Revere and the commitment that our residents have to bringing a world-class destination to our city.”

Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria, in a prepared statement, said, “There’s no comparing Everett’s near-90-percent margin of victory to tonight's vote in Revere, just as there’s no comparison to Wynn’s 5-star brand, international drawing power or financial strength in the industry. Wynn's transformative impact and unmatched economic development opportunity for Everett and Massachusetts is without parallel in the region. The vast difference in results should absolutely weigh heavily on the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The people of Everett and Revere have spoken in a clear voice -- and it's time for the Commission to listen. The people of Everett already know what is becoming increasingly clear every day: A Wynn Resort in Everett the best choice for every resident in Massachusetts, today and for decades to come.”

Wynn has released a letter to the Gaming Commission outlining 12 changes he thinks needs to be made in the November 2011 casino law, and indicated that if they aren’t made, he will reconsider or back out from his Everett casino bid.

The issues include raising the threshold at which gamblers would have to pay state taxes on winnings.

Asked whether he has any similar demands he is making, Etess said, “We have absolutely -- we don’t need anything. We make no requests of the Gaming Commission. We ask no changes of any law in the commonwealth. We request no tax breaks. We request absolutely no money to fund our transportation improvements. We're ready to go and eager to get on with the process.”

The Gaming Commission has said it hopes to make its vote choosing between Mohegan in Revere and Wynn in Everett by May 31 or June 30.

With videographer Nik Saragosa

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