Are Winthrop Residents Excited About a Casino in Neighboring Eastie?: Powers: Let’s Put It to a Vote and Find Out

Thursday, September 22, 2011
By Cary Shuman

Councilor-at-Large Larry Powers would like to know whether Winthrop residents are in favor or opposed to the construction of a casino/resort complex at Suffolk Downs in East Boston.

At Tuesday night’s Council meeting, Powers made a motion to hold a town wide referendum vote on the issue, but Councilor-at-Large Philip Boncore tabled the measure, saying he hasn’t read the entire 165-page casino legislation that was passed by the House of Representatives. The Council will vote on Powers’ motion at its Oct. 4 meeting.

Suffolk Downs has been mentioned as a possible site for one of three casinos that would be built in the state. The State Senate still must pass the casino bill before it goes to the desk of Governor Deval Patrick.

“I want Winthrop residents to be able to vote up or down whether they want a casino at Suffolk Downs,” said Powers. “I want to give the town of Winthrop the authority to vote on any referendum question that comes up on the placement of a casino at Suffolk Downs.”

Powers would like to have the vote take place prior to Suffolk Downs being granted a casino license.

Powers’ Winthrop referendum would be non-binding. In the casino bill passed by the House, only the host communities (East Boston and Revere in the case of Suffolk Downs) would hold referendums on the construction of a casino at Suffolk.

“I think we could have voted on my motion [Tuesday night] but that’s Councilor’s Boncore right to table it for two weeks,” said Powers.

Winthrop resident John Ribiero, a prominent leader in the effort against the expansion of gambling in the Bay State, appeared before the Council Tuesday night. One of the options that his group, Neighbors of Suffolk Downs, suggested was a referendum vote by Winthrop residents “to approve or deny a license to any party seeking to conduct Class 3 gambling with a 10-mile radius of the town.”

Ribiero said the casino issue is front and center on the minds of Winthrop residents.

“The more people I talk to and the more people that understand anything about the casino – the more people are concerned about it,” said Ribiero, who was joined at the meeting by some of his supporters. “If and when the casino bill does happen to pass, we would want to have a vote in Winthrop for a casino that’s going to be built nearby – therefore we would be at the table for negotiations for mitigation money and funding if there were a casino.”

  • http://twitter.com/MikeFROMRevere Mike Carter

    Non binding must mean DOES NOT MATTER in Winthrop. I am not looking forward to the traffic and social disease a casino will bring but I keep asking Mr. John Ribiero where is it we are supposed to tell people to look for jobs if we do not get a casino. All he has had to say to me thus far is “We can do better than a casino” O.k. I am game. What? Where? When? How? A casino at suffolk downs is a solid plan to bring growth and jobs to the North shore.

  • Jaime F.

    “A casino at Suffolk Downs is a solid plan to bring growth and jobs to the North Shore.”  Says who Mr. Carter?  To date, there has not been an independent study focusing on the economic and social impact of a casino on Winthrop.  As a candidate for the Revere City Council, it is abundantly evident where your allegiances lie.  For the people who are on THIS side of the border, our relationship with the casino isn’t as cozy.  Unlike Revere, who has a place at the table, we are shut out.  This is despite the strong possibility that we will be significantly impacted by traffic and/or crime in the area.  Why would we support something that will bring such ills and little financial gain?  For some minimum wage jobs?  No thank you. 

  • Jaime F.

    “- Establishing a casino that will
    provide jobs for Revere residents first. A successful resort with its
    income and revenue potential could help alleviate the need for continued
    increases in property tax and water/sewer obligations.” — Quote from Mr. Carter’s Facebook Campaign Page.  Clearly he cares for the people of Winthrop. 

  • Eastie Guy

    I can truly appreciate the frustration of the unemployed, but let’s not build a casino in the name of jobs.  Not all jobs are created equal, and I suspect few jobs come with as many social costs as those created by a casino.  Want jobs – why not legalize drugs and prostitution?  Surely that’d put a lot of people to work and even increase tax revenues to boot – some of which is already being spent in the black market, Nevada, and Amsterdam.  It’s time for Massachusetts to get a piece of that action, instead of letting all that money go out of state!  Sound ridiculous?  Of course, but those are the same primary arguments for the casino.
     
    Also, for all those hopeful casino employees – keep in mind there’s no guaranty you or any American citizens will be getting a job.  The bill does not require casino operators to commit to using E-Verify to ensure employees are authorized to work here.  Have you been to a restaurant or hotel lately – how many cooks, bus boys, housekeepers, security guards, valets, etc. do you think are American citizens?  Why do you think it’ll be any different at the casino?  Sure there might be a some $30 – $60,000 jobs, but the vast majority will be minimum wage positions that are already available today in retail, restaurants, and hotels for anyone with a decent IQ and work ethic.  We don’t need all the downside of a casino for more minimum wage positions.
     
    Don’t believe the casino hype – it’s just not worth it.

  • winthrop res

    Social disease is forever.  Today’s unemployment trends are temporary.  There are thousands of ways to address unemployment besides casinos.  Boston and New England is hub for technology, medical and other industries.  Let’s leverage those huge opportunities that can make this area thrive rather than slide into something that will decay our neighborhoods in the long run.

  • Neighbor of Suffolk Downs

    First let’s be sure that there will be added jobs from a casino.  The slot machine will be the highest wage earner on the casino floor.  The slot machine wil not buy a home, frequent restaurants, or reinvest in the local economy.  The slot machine will drain jobs from Broadway and Day Square and Winthrop Center.  While all of the restaurants in our neighborhoods will be forced to abide by the current strict rules, the casinos will not.  You see the state will have a vested interest in their success, that is why they will be allowed to offer free drinks and reamin open 24/7/365.
    Research Triangle Park in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina has siphoned jobs from Massachusetts for years.  Their claim to fame is that they are near 3 major universities and a hospital.  If our politicians hadn’t given up on the area and began chasing casino revenue four years ago, we could recapture some of those jobs.
    Besides, what jobs are left in a casino? Pit Bosses: eliminated in Atlantic City, Dealers: Google dealer-less tables, Chip/Coin counters: cash-less slots and tables… most of the jobs don’t pay enough to live on… that’ll mean more overcrowding and public subsidies (unions in Atlantic City are urging their members to apply for food stamps)
    Of We need jobs.. we need service sector, working class jobs, we need construction jobs… we don’t need an industry that will prey on our friends and neighbors… we need jobs that add to the community not add to the crime… we need to employ people who will have a vested interest in the well-being of our neighborhoods… we don’t need slot machines that will gladly transfer our money to people who wouldn’t be caught dead living next door to a casino…
    Yes, I believe we can do better… but first I’d like to make sure that we don’t do any worse…

    John Ribeiro

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