Revere says no dice on slots

October 19, 2016

Debbie P. DiGiulio, administrative assistant in the Mayor’s office, shows Revere Mayor Brian M. Arrigo the voting results regarding slot machines on Tuesday. (Photo by Paula Muller)

By Thomas Grillo

REVERE — Voters overwhelmingly rejected a slots parlor near the shuttered Suffolk Downs race track.

In a lopsided 65 to 35 percent vote Tuesday, the city joined Mayor Brian Arrigo and the Beacon Hill delegation in saying no to what opponents called the wrong kind of economic development for the city.

“Obviously tonight, the people of Revere sent a resounding message that no amount of dark money and no amount of false advertising would persuade them to be for a bad idea,” said Arrigo. “Having a coalition of state and local leaders who spoke with the same voice to say this isn’t about being pro- or anti-gaming, this is about being for good ideas and against bad ideas and this is a bad idea.”

Voters in every one of the city’s 21 precincts rejected Tuesday’s non-binding initiative petition that sought approval for any future slot parlor license awarded in Revere to be located on a site that fronts Revere Beach Parkway, Winthrop Parkway and Pratt Court.

The vote delivers a defeat to investor Eugene McCain, who has an option to buy the parcels for more than $6.5 million. He moved to the city to advance his proposal and vowed the project would generate more than $80 million in new revenues for the state annually, $12 million to support horse racing, $5 million for Revere and 500 new jobs.

McCain did not respond to a request for comment.

In an interview last week with the Item, McCain, the managing director of Alliante Capital, was confident that voters want a slots parlor. He was betting on a complicated process that involves local approval for the Revere site and a statewide thumbs-up for an additional slots parlor on the November ballot.

Even if voters had approved the plan in Revere, it faced an uncertain future at the polls next month.

The statewide vote on Nov. 8, Question 1 on the ballot, would allow for a slots parlor at a location at least four acres in size and within 1,500 feet of a race track. The proposal is for a gaming establishment with no table games and no more than 1,250 slot machines.

In addition, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission would have to sign off on the second slots parlor. Observers say such an outcome seems doubtful since it would upend rules of two casinos and one slots parlor that were agreed upon prior to the start of issuing licenses.
The Gaming Commission awarded a resort casino license for the $2 billion Wynn Boston Harbor project in Everett, the $950 million MGM in Springfield and the $250 million Plainridge Park Casino, a slots parlor in Plainville.

Robert Selevitch, a West Revere resident who campaigned against the proposal, was thrilled at the vote.

“The people of Revere saw this proposal as something less than the last one that was here for a full destination resort casino by a very reputable casino operator in Mohegan Sun, this proposal was a slot parlor by group of people who would not identify themselves and had a very shady financial background,” he said. “They presented an option that the people of Revere didn’t see as beneficial.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.