Council votes unanimously for casino Host Agreement
By Sara Brown -
The City Council made an 11-0 vote of confidence for the newly agreed upon host agreement between Revere and suffolk downs for a potential casino Tuesday night.
Overall, most of the council expressed excitement and praise over the agreement.
If Suffolk Downs is granted the casino license, in the first year of operation Revere will receive 1 percent of gross gaming revenue with a minimum of $4.25 million. In the fourth year, they will earn 1.5 percent of revenues.
Also, if a casino does come to East Boston and Revere, Revere will automatically get $4 million on July 15, 2014, and another $4 million on May 1, 2016.
Many have talked about how the casino will affect jobs and local businesses.
Revere will be considered for 10 percent of part-time constructions jobs and 10 percent of permanent jobs at the casino.
Mayor: “(Casino) will become a major employer in the city.”
“It is not just a casino—not just a facility—but they will become the major employer in the city. It will also allow our local businesses to employ more people,” mayor dan rizzo said.
He added that the casino will be the largest tax payer in the city and “Add the current top ten largest tax payers in the city right now and the casino will be more.”
However, some have voiced their disappointment over what seems like a low percentage. “I’m a little disappointed about the jobs. Seems like the jobs were for Boston and not Revere,” Councillor Brian Arrigo said.
However, others were not as concerned. “Ten percent is not a huge number but those are minimums that hopefully we can exceed…” Councillor Jessica Giannino said.
“At first I was a little worried about the 10 percent ratio, but then I came down to reality and putting people to…work is a great thing,” Ward Councillor Arthur Guinasso added.
“Jobs—are we happy about the 10 percent? Not 1,000 percent but it’s something. We are getting a piece of the pie,” Ward Councilor Ira Novoselsky said.
Rizzo also pointed out that 10 percent is only a minimum. “I don’t want to speak for Suffolk Downs but I am sure if they reach the 10 percent and someone qualified for a job comes in, I’m sure they wouldn’t turn them away just because are at 10 percent,” he said.
“They [Suffolk Downs] are as excited about putting people to work as…making a profit,” Rizzo added.
Mitigation money will also be going to traffic. Improvement to Rt.1/Parkway will have $2.5 million. There is also money for American Legion Highway, North Shore Road and Beachmont Street improvements.
“I believe at the end of the day when all these improvements get to place, traffic as we know it will be better,” Rizzo said, adding, “We have done everything we possibly can to make sure that traffic is not just mitigated but better.”
Many are worried about how traffic is going to affect the city, but Guinasso is not as concerned. “We are not going to see an abundance of cars. People will come in and out throughout the day. Don’t be fearful of something new,” he said.
Zambuto is also excited about the traffic improvements. “Some of my colleagues are worried about the mitigation for the traffic. I think there is a lot of good stuff in there,” he said.
Others worried that Boston got the bigger mitigation package. “I think this agreement is widely disparate from what our neighbor to the south is getting…” Councillor Stephen Reardon said.
“This isn’t Disneyland. This is a casino. Unfortunately, crime and traffic comes with it. That is why mitigation is important,” he added. “What bothers me more is the breakup of the pie.”
However, Rizzo said there is room for improvement: “Revere only has 28 percent of the land. There is no casino being built on our borders. If the casino does well, then they can build more. There is some serious upside on this project.”
Others agreed. “I’m not going to compare it to Boston. Boston is probably getting what they deserve since the casino is all on their side,” Councillor Charlie Patch said. “I’m looking at the future. In the future—and we may not be here when it happens—but I think Revere will be making more money than Boston.”
Arrigo said he wants to make sure the money is used and spent wisely. “We are going to see a decline in state aid if a casino comes. We need to be prepared. I heard a lot of talk about how we are going to spend this money. I think there needs to be an ordinance in the books where half of the revenue goes to the rainy day fund,” he said.