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Casino Proposal in Turmoil, Deserving of a 'No' in Eastie, Revere


EAST BOSTON, MA -- Oct. 31, 2013 -- Unlike this season's Red Sox, the investors in a proposed casino are not a championship team for Boston. Suffolk Downs has indicated it won't have a new operations partner by the time East Boston and Revere residents go to the polls on Tuesday. But with or without a casino operator, the casino plan should be turned away on Tuesday by voters.


"Slot machines kill jobs," said Celeste Myers, co-chair of No Eastie Casino, citing research that shows that casino revenues come at the expense of local businesses, "and there will be at least 4,000 of them at Suffolk Downs. For our small businesses, our families, and a safe future for East Boston, we urge our neighbors to vote no on Tuesday."


No Eastie Casino previously called for Suffolk Downs to immediately withdraw its casino application after a Gaming Commission investigation turned up disastrous finances for both Caesars Entertainment and Suffolk Downs' primary owner, Richard Fields. Despite Wednesday's finding of suitability, the Gaming Commission also found that Suffolk Downs knew about many of the problems raised in their investigation but failed to take the appropriate steps to ensure problems were fixed. 


"Suffolk Downs completely failed to perform any due diligence to assess Caesars until it was clear they could not move forward with Caesars in the mix," Myers said. "Track management and city officials were notified of Caesars' problems, and yet the proposal went forward full-steam ahead. This amounts to a serious breach of trust on the part of Suffolk Downs."


The Caesars debacle, in addition to No Eastie Casino's rigorous education and voter outreach efforts, appears to be causing more East Boston residents to doubt Suffolk Downs' casino plan. Still, voters in East Boston and Revere will walk into precincts Tuesday to cast ballots with Caesars Entertainment still mentioned throughout the project description and likely no replacement operator in sight. 


But for many residents of East Boston, a casino approval process marked by roadblocks mirrors a desperate, dying casino industry. A City attorney admitted this week that Boston is prepared for the fact that Suffolk Downs' new partner may not be a "first-class gaming operator" at the industry standards set by Caesars and that a new operator may require reopening the mitigation agreement. Myers points to this as evidence that it is clearly time for Suffolk Downs to withdraw. 


"When states are bailing out their casinos, casino workers are walking off the job in disappointment, and small businesses are shutting their doors, we should be clued in that casinos are a losing economic development strategy," Myers said. "Suffolk Downs has had ample opportunities to select first-class partners, and they continue to come up short. East Boston deserves so much more."


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