Next Tuesday, East Boston voters will be going to the polls to decide on the Suffolk Downs Casino proposal.
The process has been a long time coming, starting more than six years ago since reperesentaives from Suffolk Downs first went into our community to tell residents about their project.
To say that this is just another vote dismisses the importance of the final outcome after the ballots have been counted. If approved by the voters, and then approved by the State Gaming Commission, this project will dramatically change East Boston for the next two generations.
We are not going to try to minimize the negative social impacts of a casino in Massachusetts. That decision and those consequences already have been debated and decided by the elected members of the State Legislature and the Governor when they gave their approval for the operations of three casinos in the state.
But what we are going to discuss is whether one of those casinos should be located in East Boston.
We are past the point of acting like an ostrich and sticking our heads in the sand, hoping that a casino would not be located in the metro Boston area.
In our analysis, the only other viable casino would be located less than ten minutes from the city line at the old Monsanto site on Route 99 in Everett.. So like it or not, East Boston will be impacted by a casino.
If that is the case, then the larger question is what can we gain as a city and community if the casino is located here.
If the casino is located in Everett, East Boston gets nothing.
If the casino is located in East Boston, we have hit the jackpot in terms of its huge and beneficial effect upon our tax base, better roadways and the right to mitigate the problems that might arise from having a casino.
If the voters had to decide on just locating a resort at Suffolk Downs without a casino, we would predict that the outcome would be unanimous for the resort.
But the question of a casino changes the debate.
For more than six years, Chip Tuttle from Suffolk Downs has been coming into our community to meet all residents both those who oppose the casino and those who favor the casino.
In addition, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC)has set a very high standard for the applicant that is chosen for the sole license in teh Grater Boston area.
For the owners of Suffolk Downs,, the MGC approved 88 of the 89 vendors that Suffolk Downs have submitted for their proposal. The sole vendor was Caesars Entertainment and Suffolk Downs officials asked them to withdraw.
Today, Suffolk Downs owners are looking for the right match for their project and more importantly for our community.
This election turnout promises to be high.
East Boston voters know the importance of their vote on Tuesday. While we support the Suffolk Downs proposal, we realize that the final decision is in the hands of the voters and we await their decision.