(Updated) Boston, Suffolk Downs reach agreement on casino

Caesars at Suffolk Downs Hotel. PHOTO CREDIT: Suffolk Downs
Caesars at Suffolk Downs Hotel would generate, at minimum, $32 million for the city of Boston annually. Credit: Suffolk Downs

Boston and Suffolk Downs have put their cards on the table, and soon it will be the voters’ turn to bet on a proposed casino that could net Boston tens of millions of dollars in annual payments. 

Officials from the city and the racetrack announced Tuesday that the sides had reached a deal on a host community agreement regarding the proposed casino. Last year, officials from Caesars Entertainment and Suffolk Downs unveiled plans for a $1 billion casino and hotel at the track that is located on the East Boston and Revere border.

Among the deals worked out in the 138-page agreement is a section that outlines payments to the city. The city said Boston is projected to receive $52 million annually, after stabilization and based on anticipated gross gaming revenue. Regardless of revenue, the city will never receive less than $32 million annually.

A $33.4 million upfront payment will be made to the city specifically for improvements to East Boston.

“This agreement will transform my neighborhood,” said City Councilor Sal LaMattina. ”It will save jobs … it will provide jobs, hundreds of jobs, to people that live in my neighborhood … this is a big day for my neighborhood.”

The agreement also states that the casino should have 4,000 permanent jobs at its completion and for the remainder of the license term. Of those hired for the jobs, 50 percent should be from Boston, according to the agreement.

While Boston reached an agreement with Suffolk Downs, Revere must also come to a deal. Joe O’Donnell, principal owner of Suffolk Downs, said that he expects a deal with Revere to be finalized this week.

While officials have reached an agreement, it must still be approved by voters. The expanded gambling law states that a ward can vote on whether to accept an agreement. While some groups and mayoral hopefuls have expressed their desire to have a citywide vote, Mayor Thomas Menino said he supports an East Boston-only vote.

Officials would not commit to a date for the vote.

Even if residents approve the agreement, Suffolk Downs and Caesars still have to compete for the casino license in the Greater Boston area. Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn has already reached an agreement with Everett where he proposed to build a resort-style casino. There is also a deal being worked out between Milford and Foxwoods.

Ultimately, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will decide which proposal receives the license for the Greater Boston region.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.


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