Proponents of salvaging a defeated Suffolk Downs casino by relocating the proposal entirely in Revere insisted Thursday before the state gambling commission that the project can be moved without needing a new referendum.
Revere voters approved a Suffolk Downs casino Nov. 5, the same day voters in East Boston rejected the proposal, throwing the future of the project into doubt. Original plans called for all of the construction to take place in East Boston.
Suffolk Downs’ strategy to stay alive in the fight for the sole Greater Boston resort casino license is to shift the proposal entirely into Revere, separate the casino from the racetrack, and — critically — convince the commission that the positive Revere vote two weeks ago remains valid for a new proposal.
Suffolk Downs must make the Revere vote stick because, under state law and commission deadlines, there is not enough time to hold another vote and the commission has been reluctant to extend its deadlines.
Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo told commissioners that the host agreement the city signed with the developers anticipates future development in Revere, and includes language allowing the deal to be reopened and renegotiated. An all-Revere casino probably would be more popular in the city than the original East Boston plan, Rizzo said.
On the other side of the issue, representatives of No Eastie Casino, the citizens group that led opposition to the project in East Boston, told commissioners that state law clearly forbids a casino applicant that loses a vote to immediately go forward with a new proposal. Opponents also noted that the Revere host agreement with Suffolk Downs states that no construction was planned in Revere, so the city’s voters could not have reasonably foreseen that the project could wind up entirely in their community.
Members of the commission, who typically like to move slowly on big decisions, decided Thursday to further study the host agreement, ballot question and relevant law, and then talk again about how to proceed.