Eastie’s Elected Oppose Slot Ballot Question

The proposed ballot question approved by Attorney General Maura Healey that would allow the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to award a license for a slot parlor near Suffolk Downs has drawn backlash from East Boston’s elected officials.

The proposed state ballot question to place a slot parlor near Suffolk Downs Racetrack approved by Attorney General Maura Healey has received an immediate backlash from East Boston’s elected officials.

In a joint statement from Senator Anthony Petruccelli, Rep. Adrian Madaro and City Councilor Sal LaMattina the three electeds all oppose the ballot question that still needs the appropriate amount of signatures to make it to the state ballot.

“We the elected representatives of East Boston strongly oppose a slots parlor around the area of Suffolk Downs,” said the three officials in the joint statement. “The people of East Boston expect and deserve better than slots and we will actively work against any proposal for a slots parlor in or around our community. We understand that Suffolk Downs is not behind this initiative. We urge the owners of Suffolk Downs to begin a master-planning process with the communities of East Boston and Revere that prioritizes the best interests of our residents.”

Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle said Suffolk Downs also opposes the ballot question.

“The people behind the ballot initiative appear to be speculators from out of town trying to take advantage of proximity to our property and Revere’s embrace of Mohegan Sun’s proposal for a resort destination casino,” said Tuttle. “We have said consistently that Suffolk Downs will not support the ballot initiative and we’ll continue to focus on the future development of our property in ways that will benefit both East Boston and Revere.”

In the past Tuttle has said the track hasn’t been profitable since 2006 and without the benefit of expanded gaming on the Revere portion of the property, which lost out to Wynn Everett last year, it would be very unlikely Suffolk Downs would be able to continue to race. One option is a more traditional mixed use development with housing, retail and office space. Another is airport-related, light industrial. Maybe a mix of both.

At a meeting Monday night in Eastie, Mayor Martin Walsh also said he is opposition to the ballot question.

Sources told the East Boston Times that a developer had proposed to purchase Lee’s Trailer Park and the Esquire Club from owners William Settipane and Vincent Giacchetti. That developer planned to build a hotel, and with some luck on the ballot question initiative, include a slots parlor within that hotel next to Suffolk Downs.

The source told the Times that the purchase was contingent upon the success of the ballot question.

An e-mail from the leader of the ballot initiative – and the supposed developer of the hotel, Eugene McCain – came to the Times last week promising the full details.

“One of us on our team will get back to you on Wednesday or Thursday and will be able to provide you with some more information,” read an e-mail from McCain that came to the Times late on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

However, those details never were disclosed in any further communications.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reported that it had contacted McCain and learned of the plans.

The Globe also reported that Revere’s Economic Development Director John Festa had spoken with McCain and learned of the hotel deal. However, upon learning of the slot parlor, the City decided that it could not support the project.

That lack of support, apparently, did not stop McCain from filing the ballot initiative and getting it approved by Healey.

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