Basile casts a vote for an Eastie-only referendum

Representative Carlo Basile added a local referendum amendment to the House casino bill that passed last week to ensure East Boston residents would be able to vote whether or not they want a resort-style casino in their backyard.

Basile’s amendment is specific to East Boston and would not allow any other Boston neighborhood’s to vote on whether Suffolk Downs Racetrack should receive a casino license.

"This is a time when I as an elected official need to take a parochial stand and look out for my constituents only," said Basile. "I think it’s important that East Boston and East Boston alone gets to vote on the possibility of a casino here."

Basile added that he does not think it’s appropriate to make it a citywide referendum.

"I don’t think residents in Hyde Park should be telling us what we need over here," said Basile. "It should be up to the residents that are going to be most impacted."

Last week the House passed House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo’s expanded gaming proposal designed to create jobs and stimulate economic growth throughout the Commonwealth.

The legislation, which authorizes two resort casinos and up to 750 slots at each of the state’s four racetracks, passed with bipartisan support by a veto-proof margin of 120-37. The bill will create an estimated 15,000 jobs in the Commonwealth, deliver $260 million in up-front licensing fees to the state and bring an estimated $300 – 500 million in annual tax revenue.

"This legislation is a jobs bill that will create economic opportunity and keep our residents employed," Speaker DeLeo said. "It is a balanced approach that maximizes the benefit to Massachusetts and helps our economy by directly creating jobs and revenue over the short term and long term. My concern is for the workers who struggle every day to make a living, and this bill will be a significant help to folks across the Commonwealth who are trying to support a family."

Both Basile and Senator Anthony Petruccelli said they would support a resort-style casino in East Boston provided people in the neighborhood are allowed to vote on the proposal. Also, both Basile and Petruccelli would like to see Suffolk Downs’ owners to invest between $50 and $100 million on infrastructure improvements along the Route 1A corridor.

But as those demands will be ironed out over the next few weeks, Suffolk Downs said it was pleased with the House’s vote.

"As the state’s premier gaming destination for 75 years, Suffolk Downs and its family of workers appreciate this important vote for jobs," said Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs. "With our partners at Wonderland, we remain committed to building and operating a world-class entertainment complex that combines restaurants, retail, racing, gaming and a hotel and helps boost the Commonwealth’s tourism economy."

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