By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Revere voters will go to the polls next Tuesday, October 18 and cast their vote to approve or disapprove a request for a slots casino parlor to be built in 400-room hotel located at the current trailer park on Revere Beach Parkway.
The special election is not without its controversy or confusion. Yes, there will be a special election October 18, a statewide election on November 8 and another special election in 2017 or later.
The October 18 special election this Tuesday resulted when developer Eugene McCain, of the The Revere Jobs and Education Committee, collected enough signatures to place a question on a special election ballot. To confuse matters another initiative petition question calling for an additional statewide slot license has also been placed on the November 8 election ballot.
The Revere Jobs and Education Committee’s initiated petition gathered over 4,800 city-certified signatures from Revere voters.
If the question passes on October 18, then McCain ends up gaining the ability to have a specific spot in Revere for a slots parlor casino if the slot parlor request is approved in the November 8 election. The other condition of the November 8 question is that the gaming establishment must be within 1,500 feet of a horse racing facility. The Suffolk Downs area would fit this criteria but the operators have no interest in the slots parlor casino proposed.
If the local question fails in Revere on October 18, voters will still vote on November 8 for statewide approval. If this vote fails statewide then question dies. If it passes, McCain and his group will be allowed to petition the Gaming Commission for the slot parlor gaming license that is available.
Mayor Brian Arrigo and a host of other officials have publicly opposed the slots casino parlor, including State Sen. Joe Boncore, State Rep. RoseLee Vincent, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, City Councillors Jessica Giannino, Steve Morabito, Arthur Guinasso, Joanne McKenna, John Powers, Robert Haas and Ira Novoselsky; School Committee members Susan Gravellese, Carol Tye, Stacey Rizzo, Mike Ferrante, Fred Sanella and Dan Maguire.
Arrigo held a rally of public officials on September 28 and met with residents of Hyman Towers to discuss the October 18 special election last Friday.
“As community leaders we hold high standards for the future of our city,” Arrigo told residents of Hyman Towers. “This debate is not about being “for” or “about” gaming. This debate is about being for good ideas and against bad ideas. This slot proposal is simply a bad idea for our community.”
Arrigo has noted that the city is working on its image as part of the city’s economic development work.
Nick Connors, campaign manager with the The Revere Jobs and Education Committee and the YES to 1 Committee, said they are working hard and confident they will win this vote. They have been busy conducting polls and making calls to potential voters.
“I think we have tremendous support,” Connors said from his office on Broadway. “Revere needs an infusion of 300-400 jobs and infusion in infrastructure and $5 million for the city. It’s the last opportunity for a complex like this.”
with a hotel to draw from Logan Airport.”
The Trail to Oct. 18
The city took McCain to court in July to stop the special election and again in early September, claiming the election would burden the city with a cost of $70,000.
McCain and his associates have connected with a Las Vegas company to manage everything concerning the potential development of a slots casino.
Navegante, a gaming and hospitality company, based in the Las Vegas area will be having one of its leaders working in Revere. Gary Armentout, who has over 35 years of experience in the casino/hospitality industry has worked on casinos outside of Toronto and with Foxwoods. He also worked on Harvey’s Resorts, Vanguard Gaming and several riverboat casinos along the Mississippi River.
“Support and enthusiasm from Revere citizens is very high. People understand that 300-400 good paying jobs, annual revenue of at least $5 million, thousands of union construction jobs are exactly what Revere needs,” said Jason Osborne, Campaign Chairman for Yes on 1 and The Revere Jobs and Education Committee. “We have walked into over 65 businesses, spoke on the phone with over a thousand voters, and the positive sentiment is north of 70 percent. It’s now a question of having people remember to vote on October 18. A Yes Vote on October 18 is a Vote for Jobs and More Revenue to the City.”
But Mayor Arrigo has said the “slot parlor proposal presented to the city was poorly written, poorly conceived and haphazardly concocted, with no details provided about contributions to the city, transportation upgrades, infrastructure improvements, jobs for Revere residents or mitigation for traffic or crime.”
“Massachusetts’ gaming law is praised as one of the most comprehensive and forward-looking in the nation. When we crafted the law my main focus was on boosting the economy and creating jobs. Key to that effort was creating an independent Gaming Commission which conducts thorough market analyses and then makes informed decisions. This slapdash proposal would upset the deliberate and delicate balance we worked so hard to create. Therefore, I stand in opposition to Question 1,” said Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo.
The Twist and Turns
The special election question on October 18 and the whole situation with the attempt to set up a slot parlor casino has a twist or two. A ‘yes’ vote simply means that the group “Revere Jobs and Education Committee” would secure a location for a slots only casino. A ‘no’ vote would let everyone know how the voters of Revere feel about a slots parlor in their community.
However, the casino group can still look forward to the statewide vote on Question 1 on Nov. 8 as a way to be eligible for a gaming license. If the question fails statewide the issue of a slots casino in Revere dies regards of the October 18 vote. If the question passes it will be up to the state Gaming Commission to issue a gaming license. If the license is applied for the Gaming Commission requires another Special Election . Depending on the commission the Special Election could be held in 2017 or beyond. McCain’s group would have to pay for that election through the Gaming Commission.
As with most ballot questions, the wording can also be tricky. The following is the wording of the question on the Oct. 18 ballot: “Do you approve the measure summarized below.? The proposed measure provides in full: No person or entity shall hold a Category 2 gaming license, as such term is defined in MGL ch. 23K section 2, unless such Category 2 license is issued, following the licensing process outlined in MGL ch. 23K for a site that is at least four acres in size and includes lands that front both Revere Beach Parkway, Winthrop Parkway and Pratt Court.
“Approval of this measure would limit the planning of any future slot parlor gaming facility licensed by the State Gaming Commission to a location in the City of Revere that is at least four acres in size and that fronts on both “Revere Beach Parkway/Winthrop Parkway” and Pratt Court.”
“Rejection of this measure would mean that the possible future location of any slot gaming facility would continue to be subject to the City’s Zoning Ordinance. Even if approved, the measure would only be possible if a slot parlor gaming license becomes available due to state law or if a license from an existing operation is returned to the state.”
Polls will be open in Revere from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 18.