What if There is No Casino?

July 16, 2012
By

There is a dying horse racing track on a substantial acreage – much like Suffolk Downs – which is located in Los Angeles, near to the international airport there.

In past years, all kinds of things were suggested for the sprawling development – ready site.

Now comes news that on that site of the failing horse racing track a proposal is now underway by the owners to build 3000 units of upscale housing, and in addition to that, retail shopping spaces, some office development and the variety of off-shoots that such an ambitious development would bring.

It causes us to wonder, what happens to Suffolk Downs if a casino is not approved for the location?

More importantly, what do the track owners in Los Angeles have to offer to the airport to put a 3000 unit real estate development on the site with retail shopping, commercial real estate space and all the accoutrement?

Nothing, really. They will build by right – and here at Suffolk Downs, if the casino doesn’t come to pass, just about the same would be true.

Suffolk Downs would not have to provide any traffic mitigation, build elderly centers, contribute cash scholarships, fund charity events, or contribute in any meaningful or required way if Suffolk Downs chose to go the way of a commercial-retail-real estate housing development instead of a casino.

This is not to say that a casino should be accepted by residents here because residents here will get next to nothing in benefits from a $1 billion development that is not a casino.

Rather, such a possibility gives reason to think carefully about the choices to be made and what the consequences will be.

Right now, with mitigation packages being negotiated by Boston and Revere as host cities for a possible casino at Suffolk Downs and with Winthrop and Chelsea as surrounding cities, there is much at stake on the table for nearly everyone involved.

In fact, well over $1 billion is involved initially and hundreds of millions more in the next few years to follow.

If Suffolk Downs fails at gaining a casino license because East Boston and Revere refuse to accept it in a referendum or the owners fail to gain the affirmative vote of the Gaming Commission on their application, then it will be back to the drawing board.

Suffolk Downs owners will opt to develop the site, we believe, the way the folks in Los Angeles are developing theirs if a casino does not come to pass.

The only difference is that the Suffolk Downs owners can develop their sprawling site as they wish on merit and by right without mitigation deals, without promises made and host city contracts to be kept.

It will be up to voters in East Boston and Revere to decide what will be better – a casino creating thousands of jobs and allowing for many millions in mitigation payments and new tax revenues or will it be as in Los Angeles – a goodbye to horse racing and the construction of housing, retail and commercial space in the amount of $1 billion without Suffolk Downs having to ask anyone for a vote, a favor or a payment.

  • Webster_Street

    What a sentence!
     
    “This is not to say that a casino should be accepted by residents here because residents here will get next to nothing in benefits from a $1 billion development that is not a casino.”
     
    Maybe a few of those casino scholarships should go to Eastie Times staff – then they’d not only get to live near to a casino, but they could also learn to write more better and stuff too for people.

  • kevin

    I will answer that question in simple English. It will be just as it is now: East Boston without a Casino. Cut the crap with this propaganda. People in both communities are more educated than you think.

  • NoAlCasino

    The article is badly written all around, not just that sentence. Hate it when ‘get’ is used in formal writing. The word ‘get’ is slang – say ‘receive’ or ‘obtain’ or ‘become’ or something more worthy of a newspaper.

    Minimum wage jobs are not jobs. Jobs are not guaranteed to East Boston residents. !No al casino en East Boston!

  • CasinoLies

    Dear “Times Staff”: we wouldn’t be surprised if the major Boston media outlets are already digging into your connections with the developers, lobbyists, and legal team of Suffolk Downs. 

  • John Antonellis

    The reason that there is a mitigation package being negotiated is because a casino development carries the expectation of having negative effects on the host community. Things like higher crime, more pollution, more foreclosures, fewer local businesses.  A housing development wouldn’t be paid for by the losings of struggling families and other Massachusetts residents.  Will East Boston reap the benefits of a mitigation package?  I’m not optimistic.  The city is negotiating this, not East Boston.  They will use it however they see fit, and let’s face it, the city can’t even keep our streets clean.

  • Jessica

    You write of LA: ”
    Now comes news that on that site of the failing horse racing track a proposal is now underway by the owners to build 3000 units of upscale housing, and in addition to that, retail shopping spaces, some office development and the variety of off-shoots that such an ambitious development would bring.” 

    And this: ”
    Suffolk Downs owners will opt to develop the site, we believe, the way the folks in Los Angeles are developing theirs if a casino does not come to pass.”  

    Yes, PLEASE! Please, Suffolk Downs, bring in viable, tax-paying, job-creating small and large businesses and new residents that add to the creative capital, quality of life, and fabric of our community. I would much rather have these new neighbors than a business that thrives on predatory financial practices and offers nothing–other than undoing the harm it causes–to the greater community. 

    This article is disingenuous at best and fear-mongering at worst. Suffolk Downs would still be beholden to zoning and environmental laws, of course, were it to choose to build anything other than a casino. 

    Perhaps what the author intended to say was that Suffolk Downs sans casino will be ineligible for special exceptions to state law intended to give casinos the upper hand over other local restaurants and businesses, such as the exemption from the “No Happy Hour” rule that permits casinos to serve free alcohol from 8 AM to 2 AM. All of those developments would involve tax revenue, albeit tax revenue that would not need to be rerouted to clean up the ills that accompany a casino (problem gambling and increases in other addictions, for example). Perhaps The Times or Suffolk Downs believe the race track needs more than a level playing field to survive…?

  • Freesia

    Gee, how about something like Mayor Menino’s new Inovative District, the “new hottest Neighborhood”  in the Boston area….this was a quote from Boston magazine. The iSeaport District  in South Boston? Make a comparison of what’s there and what’s here!!!  How about something   like the Institute For Contemporary Art and upscale restaurants, etc. Check out Southie’s “hottest neighborhood”!! I’d like something like that, than a flyover! Or how about a Boston Lahey Clinic site?? An upscale shopping mall with high-end stores, like Legacy Place! The malls open at 10 and close at 10!! We wouldn’t have to drive to Danvers or Dedham to shop. We could spend our money in East Boston!!!!

  • Janetsembroidery

    This article is scare tactics. Mitigation is simply bribery. The bribe isn’t worth what it will bring to the community. Don’t be fooled. It’s a known fact casinos cannibalize local business. The gains will NOT compensate for the losses. Gambling casinos were illegal for good reason until we were betrayed by the legislature. We don’t want them and all that comes along with it  here!

  • Leihafaymaldonado

    EB Times support for the casino is painfully obvious in this article. This is pure propaganda. Poorly written and panders to what EB Times seems to think are uninformed residents. Whatever the outcome for the casino, I sure hope EB Times remembers that the residents they tried to sell out will still be here. You lost my readership several weeks ago with that BS distribution of loose newspaper on the hill. As your papers blew through the street, I could finally see them as they are – LITTER.

  • Stache3

    Anything and everything would be better than to put in a casino. The negative effects of a casino  (traffic, drunk driving, prostitution, gambling addiction, lower property values, high crime, pollution from the cars and on and on it goes) is going to cause the surrounding areas (including Winthrop) to become the slums that are around most of the other casinos in the U.S. There is absolutely not one thing good about a casino being brought in here. We are struggling to make ends meet now but there are folks that want to bring in an addiction that will cause only more struggle. I know I am one of many that will leave this area before it turns into a slum.

  • Webster_Street

    Here is at least one link between the EB Times staff and the ownership of Suffolk Downs:
     
    Joshua Resnek (an owner/editor at Independent Newspaper Group) is paying Joe O’Donnell (a 31% owner of Suffolk Downs) back for his assistance in helping his son gain admission to Harvard.  See “Joe Resnek is writing his way to the top” in 6/17/12 edition of the Boston Globe.
     
    —–
    Resnek’s version of the Chelsea way apparently includes having connections and knowing how to use them.  When he decided to go to Harvard, he and his father began asking around for someone with connections to the college. Josh, who had just started a newspaper in Everett, surfaced with “a big old connection,” said Joe. Having noticed that a lot of kids from Everett schools were going to Harvard, he called the school superintendent, his longtime friend Fred Foresteire, and asked him for a favor. Could he help him get his son into Harvard? Would he reach out to his good friend Joseph O’Donnell, a major Harvard benefactor whom Boston magazine had recently declared “Boston’s most powerful person’’?
    —–

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