Volunteers hold signs in Revere on Tuesday as residents voted whether to accept or reject an agreement with Mohegan Sun on bringing a casino to the city. Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro
The gamble has so far paid off for Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs.
Voters in Revere on Tuesday approved of a Host Community Agreement with Mohegan Sun, which is seeking to develop a $1.3 billion resort casino at Suffolk Downs. Residents accepted the agreement by a vote of 7,169 to 4,172, according to the city's election department.
The outcome was a bigger margin than November's vote when more than 6,500 people (or about 60 percent) approved of the initial agreement. Just more than 11,000 people turned out for that vote.
As the results came in Tuesday night, Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority CEO Mitchell Etess promised voters they would win the license for Revere.
"We’re going to win it for many reasons," he told supporters at a victory party. "Why? We have the best location, with the best access. To drive the most gaming revenue and the most taxes for the Commonwealth. It’s near the highways, it’s near Logan Airport. It’s next to the T. Come on!”
The opposition group No Eastie Casino, which worked with Revere opponents, tweeted their disappointment after the results.
"Tonight's replacement of Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo with a casino CEO is a sad day for Suffolk County," the group said.
Suffolk Downs had lost its original partner, Caesars Entertainment, after the state commission raised red flags about the company's involvement. Mohegan Sun lost a vote in Palmer where it originally planned to build its casino.
Since January, Mohegan Sun contributed $400,000 to the Friends of Mohegan Sun group, according to state finance records.
Both sides held rallies on Sunday to urge supporters to get out and vote. Supporters said the casino would mean jobs, financial comfort and a transformation for Revere. An agreement with the city meant guaranteed money for Revere of between $25 million and $30 million annually during the first four years of it opening. Opponents argued there will be more negative consequences than benefits that come with a casino like crime, traffic and robbing the city of its identity.
Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs, said on Sunday that if Mohegan Sun gets the license, they believe the casino could be open by Christmas 2016.
Regardless of the vote outcome, the effort to repeal the state's expanded gambling law was well underway.
Casino opponents are gearing up to contest Attorney General Martha Coakley's ruling last year that their ballot initiative to repeal the law was not eligible. The state's highest court will consider arguments later this year.
No matter what Revere voters decided Tuesday, Joseph Catricala, co-chair of the group Don't Gamble on Revere, recently said "we're going to move right on to the repeal effort."