Menino and the Casino

Mayor Thomas Menino left not a hint of doubt where he stands or how he feels about a casino coming to Boston at Suffolk Downs. With absolutely no ambiguity last week the mayor made public remarks noting that the city welcomes a casino at Suffolk Downs, is working for a casino at Suffolk Downs and believes that a casino at Suffolk Downs will be a benefit to the city.

And of course, the mayor is right.

He went on to say that a casino at Suffolk Downs is something the city welcomes and he touted the benefits of a casino. He made these comments and at the same time announced a five member advisory panel to help the city plan for a casino at the 75 year old horse racing track.

He said the appointment of the host City Advisory Committee was the first official step toward bringing a casino to the city’s East Boston neighborhood.

He named East Boston resident and executive of a real estate firm Sara Barnat to the Committee.

He called the possibility of a casino at Suffolk Downs a historic and rare economic opportunity and that the advisory panel would aid in making certain the casino came to be in the right way.

The mayor made it incontestably clear that the Advisory Committee was not to consider any other sites but the Suffolk Downs facility and he also said he felt comfortable with an East Boston/Revere referendum only.

He emphasized that there would be substantial benefit from tax revenues generated by the casino – and is right with that.

Should the facility be built and operated at Suffolk Downs, property taxes alone are estimated to rise to $15 million a year. Then there will be the mitigation funding from the developers over a multi-year period that should total in the $10 million range as well as a cut of the profits as provided in the state’s expanded gambling legislation.

The mayor gets it. He understands the casino is not panacea. Rather, the casino is a good jobs bill project a major capital investment development as well as a major generator of new tax revenues for the city.

He knows and believes a casino at Suffolk Downs is just one more reason for Boston to be considered a world class place to visit with so many different things to do.

His imperative with his announcement is to emphasize again that he is in favor of a casino at Suffolk Downs, that he is working toward that goal and that he wants the process done right.

He is to be lauded for his frankness and his absolute support.

The Advisory Committee’s purview is one thing.

The mayor’s support for the casino at Suffolk Downs is another.

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