Two towns reject casinos,one says OK

Some lawmakers doubt Wampanoag will receive necessary federal approvals without action from Congress
Wampanoags still awaiting Congressional action.

East Boston, Palmer voters reject casinos while Revere says yes

Mashpee still awaits votes in Senate as some lawmakers doubt Congress will act in time

Voters in East Boston and Palmer rejected casino proposals pushed by developers who hoped to build resorts at Suffolk Downs and a wooded area off the Massachusetts Turnpike.

The vote put the brakes on a project at a racetrack near Revere Beach that enjoyed support from many elected officials, and leaves MGM Grand as the last developer standing in the western part of the state where it hopes to build a casino in Springfield.

Mayor Dan Rizzo of Revere, where voters supported the Suffolk Downs proposal, said he would seek to salvage the casino plans, leaving out the parts that are on land in East Boston.

"Tonight I called Suffolk Downs and I have asked them to reshape their project and to build it only on their 52 acres in Revere," Rizzo said in a statement. "I will work with the Gaming Commission so that Revere's affirmative land-use vote on this issue can stand."

Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs, did not concede defeat speaking to supporters at the racetrack. "We are reassessing based on tonight's results what we can do to move forward," Tuttle said.

Tuttle said he had just hung up the phone with Rizzo and said, "He's interested in trying to see how he can affirm Revere's positive statement on this. We're going to look at that. We're going to talk about how we may be able to move forward here."

The verdict of voters in East Boston coincided with Tuesday's elections results, as Rep. Martin Walsh of Dorchester won the Boston mayoralty.

Walsh said he would have voted for the casino, if he lived in East Boston where the vote took place, while City Councilor John Connolly declined to say how he would vote on the measure.

Long a favorite of outgoing Boston Mayor Tom Menino, Suffolk Downs ran into a major hurdle down the stretch, as it parted ways with casino partner Caesars Entertainment.

In East Boston, the casino proposal was defeated 3,353 to 4,281, according to the Boston Elections Department.

In Palmer, 2,564 votes were cast for the Mohegan Sun proposal to 2,657 against, with 66 percent turnout, according to the town clerk's office. Mohegan officials had no immediate comment after the vote.

Casino interests brought far more resources to the ballot fight. In Boston and Revere, Friends of Suffolk Downs spent $1.9 million from January 2012 to Oct. 23, while No Eastie Casino spent $22,117 and casino opponent Charles Lightbody spent $4,231.

"They can't buy this kind of passion," said Celeste Myers, a leader of No Eastie Casino, who said the group had East Boston volunteers manning a 40-person phone bank, stationing no less than three people at every precinct, and bringing people to the polls.

Speaking from the group's celebration in the basement of a Lutheran church, Myers said the results in Palmer and East Boston should give the Massachusetts Gaming Commission "pause," and said she and the other volunteers were "cautiously optimistic" before the returns.

"I was bracing myself for a modest loss," Myers told the News Service.

The split between Suffolk and Caesars was precipitated by the Gaming Commission's report about the casino company allegedly fueling a high roller's losing streak with alcohol and a licensing deal with Gansevoort Hotels, which is partially owned by an individual who has alleged ties to Russian organized crime.

At Walsh's victory party, Boston elected officials said the will of the voters should stand.

"You got to respect the will of the voters," said City Councilor Felix Arroyo, of Jamaica Plain.

"The people of East Boston decided. They made a decision this evening," said Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, a Dorchester Democrat.

A horse track dating to the 1930s, Suffolk headed into the polls in Revere and East Boston without a casino partner. Track owners for years have pinned their hopes for expansion on expanded gambling.

The horse track's defeat boosts the prospects of Wynn Resorts, which hopes to develop the polluted site of a former Monsanto Chemical factory along the Mystic River.

In the eastern part of the state, Wynn Resorts received approval from 86 percent of Everett voters to build along the Mystic River. A Foxwoods proposal will go before Milford voters on Nov. 19.

It was a bright, crisp day, with high temperatures near 50 degrees as voters in Bay State cities went to the polls. Palmer was scene to a fiery truck crash Tuesday, as a flatbed carrying concrete crashed, caught fire and lit the surrounding vegetation, temporarily shutting down the eastbound of the Mass Turnpike.

Neither Wynn nor Foxwoods nor MGM has received a suitability determination from the Gaming Commission, a step they will need to clear to become finalists. After Caesars withdrew, Suffolk received a positive suitability determination, as had Mohegan Sun.

The 2011 gaming law split the state into three sections, and MGM is now the last remaining developer in the west.

There were no ballot initiative campaign financing groups registered for the Palmer vote.

Though he received interest, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse resisted entreaties from casino developers, and voters in West Springfield rejected a bid by Hard Rock. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno's decision to negotiate with MGM led Penn National to abandon the city, seeking to put a slots parlor in Tewksbury before settling on a slots bid at Plainridge Racecourse.

Meanwhile, Mashpee awaits

The process is delayed in the southeast, where the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is seeking to use a tribal provision in the 2011 gaming law to build a casino in Taunton. KG Urban, which is seeking to redevelop a site on the New Bedford waterfront, has sued, arguing the law unfairly benefits Indian tribes. A gaming compact between the state and the tribe is awaiting Senate action amid doubts from some lawmakers that the Wampanoag could receive necessary federal approvals without action from Congress.

Though Attorney General Martha Coakley has ruled their proposal ineligible for the ballot, casino opponents have received an injunction and are collecting signatures with the goal of rolling back the casino law on the November 2014 ballot.

"Voters today struck a decisive blow to the casino culture, a clear signal that the Commonwealth believes there are better economic options than casinos and slot barns. Voters clearly saw the proposals on the table were a bad deal for real people," said Repeal the Casino Deal Chairman John Ribeiro in a statement.

In New York, the Tuesday ballot included a constitutional amendment that would permit up to seven casinos. The state has five casinos on Indian reservations, according to the New York Times. welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on