Along with a hotel, shops, restaurants, nightclubs, and a 24-hour casino, horse racing would continue at Suffolk Downs. The Wynn group is interested in tapping into the convention market.
Along with millions of dollars in taxes and other new revenues, a resort casino would bring sizzle and spark to a couple of down-on-their-luck cities, supporters say.
“This really [could be] a game-changer for the city of Revere,” said Mayor Dan Rizzo, a longtime proponent of expanded gambling in his city.
“He’s talking 3,000 to 5,000 jobs,” Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr. said in an interview last week at City Hall. “Wynn would be the biggest employer in the city.”
Taxes and other revenue sources, such as municipal fees, could top $35 million, DeMaria added.
“You’re talking $25 million or so in [property] taxes, $10 million or so in hotel and sales taxes,” DeMaria said. “We don’t have anyone now that gives us that money.”
But one economist is skeptical that a resort casino would bring a municipal payday.
“A lot of profits generated by casinos leave a region,” said Paul Harrington, director of the Center for Labor Markets and Policy at Drexel University in Philadelphia. “They go back to where the business is based.”
Job opportunities also can be disappointing, he noted.
“The employment impact can be small,” said Harrington, who follows New England labor force trends. “There are not a lot of people who have the skills to be a blackjack dealer. Those jobs are usually filled with people from out of state. It’s the lower-skilled jobs, the hotel and restaurant workers, that end up being filled by the local labor force.”
Still, jobs such as ticket takers and maintenance work could brighten the employment outlook, officials said.
“There will be good-paying jobs,” DeMaria said last month.
Everett has tried, without success, to lure a new development to the former Monsanto Chemical Co. site, which has been idle since the plant closed in 1992. The parcel, valued at $8.8 million, generates $380,300 in annual taxes, according to the city.
About 6 acres of the Monsanto site, valued at $1 million, lie within Boston’s boundaries. Boston Mayor Tom Menino, a strong backer of a Suffolk Downs casino, said last week that any development on the Everett site would have to go through his city. But Wynn said he has an option to purchase only the Everett land. “We’re not using the Boston side,” he said.
In Revere, a resort casino at Suffolk Downs could restore jobs lost when Wonderland Dog Track closed in 2010 after greyhound racing was banned in the state.
“A lot of people had second jobs there for many, many years,” Rizzo said. “That’s where they got their vacation money, their Christmas money, or extra income they needed to live.”
About one-quarter of the Suffolk Downs property is in Revere. The land includes part of the track, parking lots, and a 25-acre horse barn area.
The land is valued at about $12 million, and generates $1.5 million in annual property taxes, according to Revere records.
The hotel, casino, and other new development is planned for the East Boston side of the property. The state gaming law requires applicants that had a parimutuel license in 2010 to continue racing operations for the duration of the license, Tuttle said.
“That would mean a 15-year extension of racing,” he said. “We looked at a lot of different development options. With the premise that the barn area has to stay where it is, initially, there wouldn’t be a lot of development on the Revere side.”
Property, room, and meal taxes collected at the resort would be paid to Boston. However, Rizzo said he is negotiating other payments to Revere as part of the host-community agreement.
“We’re talking about financial payments that would kind of put us on a par with Boston,” he said.
Tuttle declined to discuss specifics of the agreement, but said, “I’m very confident that we’ll reach an agreement with the city that will have extensive benefits for Revere and its citizens.”
DeMaria declined to say how much reinvestment he is seeking as a host city. Transportation, public safety, education, and recreation improvements are among his priorities.
“It will have to be worth it for the people of Everett to have this facility,” he said.