East Boston voted against a cash windfall last November during the Host Community referendum and now with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission awarding the Boston-area gaming license to Wynn Everett on Tuesday–Eastie’s famed race track will close according to Suffolk Downs ownership.
In a statement from Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle he said the management team was understandably disappointed and said they will begin the painful process of shutting down the 79-year-old racetrack.
“We are extraordinarily disappointed as this action is likely to cost the Commonwealth thousands of jobs, small business and family farms,” said Tuttle. “We will be meeting with employees and horsemen over the next several days to talk about how we wind down racing operations as a 79-year legacy of Thoroughbred racing in Massachusetts will be coming to an end, resulting in unemployment and uncertainty for many hard-working people.”
On Tuesday after the vote Sen. Anthony Petruccelli cautioned the Suffolk Downs ownership to take a breather before any decision is made on the future of the racetrack.
“The decision by the Mass Gaming Commission brings to an end a very emotional process,” said Petruccelli. I congratulate both proponents and opponents from both East Boston and Revere for their advocacy in what has been a very robust debate in our communities for the past two years. East Boston and Revere are on the move and everybody in Greater Boston recognizes that. While I know the immediate reaction will be that racing at suffolk downs will be no more I am going to continue to work to see that it remains. If the current ownership doesn’t have an interest to continue live racing at Suffolk Downs perhaps there are potential buyers that would. I believe that a 79 year tradition in East Boston and Revere is worth saving.”
Eastie will also lose out on a surrounding community agreement worth $18 million a year and an additional $30 million over 10 years. With the agreement, Mohegan Sun would have invested $45 million in transportation improvements to the City of Boston and the area surrounding the casino site. The City of Boston would have received $30 million over 10 years for local capital projects in Eastie, and a minimum of $18 million annually to mitigate the community impact of the casino development. This community impact annual payment would have increased based on gross gaming revenue calculated in a given year.
“My immediate concern is for the hundreds of East Boston residents who are likely to lose their jobs,” said Rep. Carlo Basile. “My heart goes out to those workers and their families. We must turn our focus to the future of East Boston and to job creation for the sake of these workers and our community as a whole.”
Chairman of the casino repeal campaign said of Tuesday’s vote by the Mass Gaming Commission, “The one thing we can all agree on is that the Massachusetts Gambling Commission has created a class A mess for Massachusetts. Despite calls by everyone from casino opponents to supporters like Attorney General Martha Coakley and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, the Gambling Commission pushed ahead by picking one of two incredibly flawed proposals wrapped in controversy, conflict and ongoing criminal investigations.”
“If this is how the casino experiment begins in Massachusetts, we can only guess how it will end. Voters have a clear choice in seven weeks – allow the mess or end the mess,” he said. “We’re confident they will vote yes to stop the casino mess.”