With the support of Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo now a reality, casino gambling has taken a large, incremental step closer.
With State Senate President Therese Murray also on board, this leaves only the governor to weigh in, and the debate will be virtually at an end, although there will be meetings, public hearings, studies, admonitions from responsible people that the world is about to end, etc.
Within 120 days, at least two licenses will be awarded and paid for in Massachusetts, probably costing the buyers about $400-$600 million, so the state has 400-600 million reasons to grant two casino licenses.
The state cannot lose – and if one of the licenses goes to the owners of Suffolk Downs, East Boston can’t lose, either.
Reports that a casino here won’t produce jobs are ridiculous. They have no basis in reality.
A casino at Suffolk Downs will produce at least 1,500 jobs at the start and more as time goes by – and the jobs will be all over the neighborhood as well as on the site.
A casino at Suffolk Downs requires certain benefits to accrue for the neighborhood, so there will be, out of necessity, efforts to reduce and mitigate traffic – something that has never been here in three decades, with or without a casino.
Other efforts will be made to fund and to support various neighborhood groups who aid the needy in the neighborhood.
Also, a tax deal will be made with the city to make funds available for East Boston for worthy causes and necessities.
For those who worry that our society and everything moral about it will dissipate with a casino here, there will be therapy and outreach for people with gambling problems. This type of thing should have existed here long before a casino came to pass.
Bottom line, it will cost a few hundred million to build the casino and to expand racing, and to build restaurants and clothing boutiques and all the things that make a casino.
Millions will be spent locally. More millions will be spent inside the casino, so taxes will be generated.
A Boston style casino at Suffolk Downs won’t be Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods – it will be an urban casino – a bit of good architecture, a series of structures, horse racing at the track on a 200-acre campus that’s been largely unused for 50 years.
The casino will be unseen by neighbors and unheard, as all of the activities take place inside.
Those who yell loudest about prostitution coming with the casino should make efforts to stamp out local prostitution, which has existed here for 50 years.
Bookmaking will dry up. The numbers game is all over. Even the Lottery might be affected a bit.
Overall, however, a casino here is all about the biggest single investment in this neighborhood in its lifetime, with more jobs than anyone could hope for or imagine.
Would a steel mill be better? How about a coal mine on the property? More oil storage, or how about a Wal-Mart?
The casino’s time has arrived for Suffolk Downs.