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News :: Politics
Gov Candidate - Repeal Casino Legalization Law
21 Feb 2014
Modified: 07:25:25 PM
At a Suffolk University Debate - A candidate advocates repealing the legislation that allows casinos in Massachusetts.
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BOSTON — Independent gubernatorial candidate Jeffrey McCormick, a wealthy investor hoping to become governor, promised to repeal the gambling casino enabling legislation Wednesday, February 18, 2014, in a wide-ranging public discussion at Suffolk University. McCormick is one of three independents running for governor. As the discussion shifted from topic to topic, McCormick said he would vote to repeal the state’s casino law, but would not try as governor to overturn the will of the voters if the majority voted for casino gambling.

Some have claimed casinos will bring jobs and money into areas of Massachusetts that need income and work. But, where does the money come from, and where does it go? What do casinos 'make?' They make massive profits off basically low-income people. They take money away. That's the point.

Until the late 1980s, casino gambling was illegal almost everywhere in the country. Today, casinos are allowed in 23 states. These newly authorized casinos are not Las Vegas-style grand hotels. Their customers come from nearby. They don't stay overnight. They don't watch a show or eat in a fine restaurant. Perhaps most surprisingly: they don't play cards.

Modern casino gambling is computer gambling. The typical casino gambler sits at a computer screen, enters a credit card and enters a digital environment carefully constructed to keep them playing until all their available money has been extracted.
Small "wins" are administered at the most psychologically effective intervals, but the math is remorseless: the longer you play, the more you lose. The industry as a whole targets precisely those who can least afford to lose and earns most of its living from people for whom gambling has become an addiction. The IAV report cites a Canadian study that finds that the 75% of casino customers who play only occasionally provide only 4% of casino revenues. It's the problem gambler who keeps the casino in business.

Slot machine payouts vary state by state. Some states set a required minimum: 83% in Arkansas, for example. Others leave that decision up to the casino, as in Georgia and California. Some states require casinos to disclose their payouts. In others, that information is kept confidential. Based on what is published, however, it's a fair generalization that a player can expect to lose 10% to 15% of his or her stake at every session. The cheaper the game, the lower the payout: slots that charge $5 per round pay better than slots that charge a penny.

When New Jersey allowed casinos into Atlantic City back in 1977, casino advocates promised that gambling would revive the town's fading economy. The casinos did create jobs as promised. But merchants who expected foot traffic to return to the city's main street, Atlantic Avenue, were sorely disappointed. The money that comes to the casinos, stays in the casinos. Liquor stores and cash-for-gold outlets now line the city's once-premier retail strip.

See - We Can't Make It Here - James McMurtry
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Re: Gov Candidate - Repeal Casino Legalization Law
21 Feb 2014
The impact of casinos on local property values is "unambiguously" negative, according to the National Association of Realtors. Casinos do not revive local economies. They act as parasites upon them. Communities located within 10 miles of a casino exhibit double the rate of problem gambling. Unsurprisingly, such communities also suffer higher rates of home foreclosure and other forms of economic distress and domestic violence.

The Institute for American Values is sometimes described as a socially conservative group, but with important caveats. Its president, David Blankenhorn, has publicly endorsed same-sex marriage, and its board of directors is chaired by Bill Galston, a former policy adviser to Bill Clinton. The IAV is as worried that casinos aggravate income inequality as by their negative impact on family stability.

Before the spread of casino gambling, the IAV comments, the typical gambler was more affluent than average: it cost money to travel to Las Vegas. That's no longer true. Low-income workers and retirees provide the bulk of the customers for the modern casino industry. And because that industry becomes an important source of government revenue, the decision to allow casino gambling is a decision to shift the cost of government from the richer to the poorer, and, within the poor, to a subset of vulnerable people with addiction problems.

From the IAV study:
"Modern slot machines are highly addictive because they get into people's heads as well as their wallets. They engineer the psychological experience of being in the 'zone' - a trance-like state that numbs feeling and blots out time/space. For some heavy players, the goals is not winning money. It's staying in the zone. To maintain this intensely desirable state, players prolong their time on the machine until they run out of money - a phenomenon that people in the industry call 'playing to extinction.'"

How heavily does gambling weigh upon the poor, the elderly, the less educated, and the psychologically vulnerable? It's difficult to answer exactly, because U.S. governments have shirked the job of studying the effects of gambling. Most research on the public health effects of gambling in the United States is funded by the industry itself, with a careful eye to exonerating itself from blame. To obtain independent results, the Institute for American Values was obliged, ironically, to rely on studies funded by governments in Britain and Canada.

But here's what we can conclude, in the words of the Institute:
"[S]tate-sponsored casino gambling ... parallels the separate and unequal life patterns in education, marriage, work, and play that increasingly divide America into haves and have-nots. Those in the upper ranks of the income distribution rarely, if ever, make it a weekly habit to gamble at the local casino. Those in the lower ranks of the income distribution often do. Those in the upper ranks rarely, if ever, contribute a large share of their income to the state's take of casino revenues. Those in the lower ranks do."

Is this really OK? Are Americans content to allow the growth of an industry that consciously exploits the predictable weakness of the most vulnerable people? 27 states still say "no." If yours is one such state, fight to keep it that way. If not, it's never too late to find a better way. Read the full Institute for American Values study for yourself and see how much is, quite literally, at sake.
Re: Gov Candidate - Repeal Casino Legalization Law
22 Feb 2014
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Religious leaders, 150 people gather in opposition to casino in Revere ( )

REVERE — Just over a week before voters here cast ballots in a citywide referendum on a Mohegan Sun proposal to build a casino at Suffolk Downs, local Jewish, Muslim, and Christian clergy spoke in stark moral terms against the plan, urging a no vote. In fiery words before about 150 people in a Revere church today, the religious leaders railed against a gambling establishment coming to the city.

“In the end, this is a bad idea. This doesn’t come from heaven. It comes from hell. It comes from hell,” said the Rev. George Szal. “Let’s not buy into a short-term gain for a long-term pain. And that long-term pain is going to be slavery,” he said. “Because once a casino comes, you can’t get rid of it.”

At the Immaculate Conception Parish, where Szal is pastor, the speakers at the half-hour event argued that a casino would have a multitude of negative effects on the city: increased crime, an uptick in gambling addiction, and terrible traffic jams. Attempting to undercut casino proponents, who say the resort will bring many new jobs to Revere, the clergy also spoke of economic harm they anticipated a gaming establishment would have on city residents and store owners by drawing away business.

“The casino is promising great things to our economy,” said the Rev. Nick Granitsas of the First Congregational Church of Revere. “But instead, it’s going to bring destruction down on many of our small businesses.”

Rabbi Joseph Berman, the spiritual leader of Revere’s Temple B’Nai Israel, but speaking on his own behalf at the rally, prayed: “Give us the intelligence to know that a casino will redistribute money toward large corporations, breaking hearts and bank accounts in the process.” Most of the anticasino rhetoric, however, was framed in religious and moral terms.

Gambling “brings hostility amongst people. It brings sin,” said Imam Sherif Shabaka. “If I lose my money or lose my house, what [do] I become? I become a person full of hatred and destruction to the society.”

Voters in this city of about 53,000 people are set to vote on the proposal on Feb. 25. In November, East Boston and Revere each held a referendum on a resort-style casino proposed for Suffolk Downs, which straddles the East Boston-Revere line. While Revere voters approved it, with about 60 percent casting their ballots in favor, East Boston voters rejected the casino proposal.

After the vote, Mohegan Sun proposed a different casino resort at Suffolk Downs, located entirely on the portion of the track’s land in Revere.

Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo said most elected officials in the city support the Mohegan Sun plan and pushed back against the clergy effort, calling their anticasino campaign both “11th-hour” and “extremely misguided.”

“All they are doing right now is driving jobs and revenue out of the city and into Everett,” Rizzo said in a telephone interview this afternoon. “If they think they’re eliminating gaming, they’re not.” At the rally, Szal took a swipe directly at Mohegan Sun.

He said the combined millennia of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions say “gambling stinks!”

“Out of what tradition does Mohegan Sun speak?” he asked.

The crowd, seated in pews, laughed.

“We certainly respect that there are different opinions,” Cosmo Macero Jr., a spokesman for Mohegan Sun, said by telephone after the event. “It’s very clear however that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is establishing a gaming industry. Mohegan Sun Massachusetts will create thousands of jobs, tens of millions of dollars in new revenue, and economic opportunity for Revere and the entire region.”

See - The Ten Commandments Song - Catholic School Memory --
Re: Gov Candidate - Repeal Casino Legalization Law
22 Feb 2014
Opinion – Gambling hurts poor; voters must repeal law ( )

IT IS no surprise that out-of-state, multibillion dollar casino interests are spending huge sums to block Massachusetts citizens from voting on a casino repeal. Several casino operators competing for gambling licenses in Massachusetts are preparing to file a motion with the state’s highest court, seeking to keep a proposed repeal of the state casino law off the November ballot.

The coalition of gambling companies, which also includes Massachusetts voters who want to protect the casino law, is expected to intervene as early as Monday in a lawsuit already pending before the Supreme Judicial Court, according to people with direct knowledge of the coalition’s plans but who are not authorized to speak publicly about it.

If the casino backers prevail in court, they could quash the repeal effort without a statewide vote and a potentially expensive referendum campaign.

The legal motion expected this week by casino backers reflects a growing concern that the casino operators who are selected to build the state’s first casinos will be soon asked to pay massive — and nonrefundable — licensing fees, even though the threat of casino law repeal still hangs over their pricey projects.

“It would be a gamble” for the companies to pay the fee, said Carl Jenkins, managing director at the financial firm Duff & Phelps, who has studied the local casino market.

The state would also be taking a risk by accepting the nonrefundable fees while the repeal question is unresolved, said Jenkins. “If the law was repealed, I’d wager there would be a significant number of lawsuits against the state,” he said.

One of the companies participating in the coalition against the repeal, MGM Resorts, said that over the past two years the company has invested millions of dollars and enormous staff time into its plans for an $800 million casino and entertainment complex in downtown Springfield. About 58 percent of Springfield voters backed the plan in a referendum last July.

“Our plan was endorsed by an overwhelming majority of voters,” Michael Mathis, vice president of global gaming development, said in a statement. “It would be devastating to roll back all that has been accomplished and take away the promise of what is to come.”

Massachusetts legalized casino gambling in November 2011, establishing a five-member state gambling commission to license as many as three resort casinos and one slot parlor.

Casino opponents, who argue that state voters never had a chance to directly weigh in on whether to open Massachusetts to the gambling industry, responded with a signature drive to put a repeal of the casino law on the November ballot.

“This wasn’t passed by the will of the people,” said John Ribeiro, chairman of the repeal effort, in an interview. “This was the will of a few people on Beacon Hill.”

Last year, Attorney General Martha Coakley of Massachusetts dealt the repeal effort a setback, ruling that the petition was unconstitutional and could not appear on the ballot.

Coakley’s office concluded the repeal would “impair the implied contracts between the commission and gaming license applicants,” and illegally “take” those contract rights without compensation, according to the decision issued Sept. 4.

Opponents appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court, winning the right to collect signatures while the appeal was pending. They collected more than the minimum 68,911 valid signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot.

The case is expected to be argued in court in May, and decided by late June or early July. If the casino opponents win the case, voters would decide the repeal question in November, extending a cloud of uncertainty over the state’s casino industry for most of this year.

In the meantime, the gambling commission expects to award its first licenses. The panel may choose the winning applicant for the slot parlor license by March, and then issue licenses for resort casinos in Western Massachusetts and in Greater Boston by May. The resort casino license created for Southeastern Massachusetts is on a later timetable.

The licensing fee for the slot parlor is $25 million; the resort casino fee is $85 million. By law, the winning bidders are supposed to pay within 30 days.

In their attempt to intervene in the case, the gambling companies will support Coakley’s argument that the repeal would amount to an illegal taking of contract rights, as well as raise the argument that the petition was improperly drafted because it includes an issue unrelated to casinos: an apparent ban on parimutuel wagering on simulcast greyhound races, according to people familiar with the motion.

Stephen Crosby, chairman of the gambling commission, said some applicants have raised concerns over the repeal effort in documents submitted with their applications.

Nothing in the casino law gives the commission the power to return the licensing fees to the applicants if the casino law is repealed, Crosby said. In addition to licensing fees, winning bidders will face other costs, such as commitments to pay millions of dollars to their host communities, as well as land option payments, he said.

The Rev. Richard McGowan, a Boston College professor and casino expert, said he doubts any winning bidders would walk away from the license over the possibility of a repeal.

Based on “every single poll I’ve ever seen, I cannot imagine the state would vote for a repeal,” he said.

Polling performed last November by the Western New England University Polling Institute suggested that 61 percent of Massachusetts adults support the establishment of casinos in the state, and just 33 percent oppose it, which was similar to the results of polls in 2009 and 2010. Support plummeted when the projects got too close to home: just 42 percent said they would support a casino in their own community, while 55 percent were opposed, according to the survey.

What is also no surprise is the mounting pile of independent evidence revealing that government policies promoting casinos are contributing to unfairness and inequality in our nation. It is harming health, draining wealth from people in the lower ranks of the income distribution, and contributing to economic inequality. These are among the findings of recent report from the Council on Casinos , an independent group of scholars convened by the Institute for American Values, a nonpartisan think tank.

Casinos spend billions of dollars on lawyers, polls, public health research, donations to influential nonprofits, lobbying, media relations, and advertising. But despite this unparalleled spending, they cannot change the ironclad fact that casinos produce unfairness and inequality.

It’s not a matter of if casinos will be repealed in Massachusetts, but when. It’s inevitable.
Re: Repeal Casino Legalization Law
24 Feb 2014
Modified: 10:12:50 AM
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About 200 opposing Revere casino rally in front of City Hall By Gal Tziperman Lotan February 23, 2014 ( )

REVERE — About 200 people opposing a proposed Mohegan Sun casino walked from the Immaculate Conception Church to Revere City Hall this afternoon, led by a Salvadorian marching band. Revere residents will vote Tuesday whether to allow Mohegan Sun to build a $1.3 billion casino and hotel development on 42 acres owned by Suffolk Downs.

In November, Revere residents approved plans by about 60 percent for a casino that would have straddled the Revere-Boston line; the plan was voted down in East Boston, however. The new plan up for vote Tuesday would build on land located solely within Revere. Protesters gathered at the church on Winthrop Avenue at 1 p.m. and began marching to City Hall, making enough noise to draw people from their homes.

“We do not need or want a casino,” Linda Aufiero, a lifelong Revere resident, told the crowd at City Hall. “I believe gambling and alcohol go hand in hand — addiction.” Aufiero’s father used to go to Wonderland and gamble when she was young, she said, and she was concerned that some casual gamblers would become addicted to the rush of gambling without realizing it. “It happens so quickly,” she told a reporter after the rally. “You think, ‘I’m just gonna go down and spend a few dollars.’ And then maybe a few days later you go again. And before you know it, the money’s gone.”

Her friend Linda Fennelly, a Revere resident and spa therapist at Skin For All Seasons on Revere Street, said she is not only wary of the traffic a successful casino could bring, but is skeptical of claims a casino would help smaller businesses. “I don’t believe that people will leave a casino to come to our spa. I hope they will,” said Fennelly, a yellow anti-casino sticker affixed to her forehead. “People are not gonna leave the casino once they’re in there.”

Karin Esturban, 33, said she voted against the casino proposal in November, but did not get involved in the activism opposing it until about two months ago. “I see more unity, the community is getting closer and closer,” Esturban said. “And I understand [the issues]. I read the articles. I understand the problems.”

Esturban said she fears students in the Beachmont Veterans Memorial School, near the proposed casino site, would come into contact with casino customers; that police would be too busy at the casino to monitor other parts of the city; and that the new jobs would go to experienced casino workers from outside Revere. That rally, she hoped, would get the attention of Revere Mayor Daniel Rizzo, who has been vocal in his support of a casino.

“We’re asking the mayor not to get deceived. There’s another side of Revere that says no. And he is the mayor, he’s supposed to listen to both parties, not just one.” Yeiman Martinez, 28, of Revere, said he did not want to see a casino bring more drugs to the area.

“Many people would come — drug people. We don’t want those people getting around the city,” Martinez said. About an hour after the anti-casino group gathered, more than 400 people filled a VFW Hall in Revere for a “Vote Yes” rally organized by Friends of Mohegan Sun, a political action group.

‘Vote Yes’ casino rally draws more than 400 people in Revere
By Kathy McCabe katherine.mccabe (at) / Globe Staff / February 23, 2014
( )

REVERE— A “Vote Yes” rally this afternoon drew more than 400 people to a VFW hall to show their support for a $1 billion resort-style casino proposed by Mohegan Sun at the Suffolk Downs race track. Many wore red-and-white T-shirts reading, “It’s about Revere!” to the rally organized by the Friends of Mohegan Sun, a political action group. They ate classic Revere Beach fare—finger lobster rolls, clam chowder, chicken fingers, and mini-roast beef sandwiches—from Kelly’s Roast Beef, a landmark on the crescent-shaped beach.

“It’s about jobs,” said Morris D. Morris, 85, as he waited in line at a crowded buffet. “People around here could use the money. We need to get people working here.” Matilda Bonfardeci, 45, a mother of two school-age children, said the prospect of a casino promises millions of dollars for the public schools. “To me that’s a really big thing, the fact that we’ll have money to be used for the school system,” said Bonfardeci, who stood with her daughter, Marcella, 7.

A host community agreement between Mohegan and Revere calls for the Connecticut-based casino company to make a one-time $33 million payment to the city, plus annual payments of $25 million to $30 million. The agreement also would give hiring preference to Revere residents for the estimated 2,500 temporary construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs. The Revere-Beach themed development would include two hotels, upscale restaurants, and retailers and a full casino.

The rally was planned by Friends of Mohegan Sun, a political action group, just 48 hours before a critical referendum on Tuesday that will determine if Mohegan Sun’s application can advance before the state gambling commission.

Sandy Levin, 77, a volunteer, said she made dozens of calls to Revere residents. “Only about four told me they wouldn’t vote for it,” said Levin, carrying a plate holding a cup of chowder and a lobster roll. “I think this is going to pass.”

The vote will mark the second time Revere has held a referendum on a casino at Suffolks Downs, which straddles the Revere/East Boston border. In November, Revere residents voted 60 percent in favor of a plan to build the casino on the East Boston side of the 160-acre property. But East Boston voters soundly rejected it. Suffolk Downs has since teamed up with Mohegan Sun to propose developing the casino on 52 acres on the the Revere side of the property.

Revere city leaders and Mohegan executives are leaving little to chance. They’ve organized phone banks, knocked on doors, and printed up signs and bumper stickers. Mitchell Etess, chief executive officer of the Mohegan Sun Tribal Gaming Authority, said he knocked on doors in Revere neighborhood’s before the rally. “We’ve been getting our message out there about how important this is for Revere,” Etess, said in an interview at the rally. “We’re focused on getting out the vote. We believe that’s the most important thing we can do now.” Etess said he spent time before the rally knocking on doors, urging support for the casino.

Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo issued a similar call for support. “We have a chance, on Tuesday, to get out and stand up for all of here in this room, and all of us across the city,” said Rizzo, the project’s most vocal proponent.

About an hour before the proponents gathered, some 200 people opposing the casino walked from the Immaculate Conception Church to Revere City Hall, where they heard speakers urge voters to reject the plan. Residents should reject arguments that the casino will bring compulsive gambling, crime and other social ills to this North Shore city of nearly 53,000 people, Rizzo said.

“Do not buy into the information that’s been put out there by the opposition,” he said. “It’s based on lies and conjecture. We have been telling the truth since the very beginning.”

See Youtube video from an anti-casino fight in Canada - No Casino In Our Neighbourhood -
Re: Gov Candidate - Repeal Casino Legalization Law
24 Feb 2014
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Casino gambling the key to survival for two Mass. tracks Monday, February 24, 2014 3:00 am ( )

BOSTON — By any measure, horse racing has been in marked decline for years in Massachusetts, leaving operators of the state’s two tracks eyeing casino gambling as their last, best hope for survival.

Now, two upcoming votes — one by residents in Revere and the other by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission — could ultimately determine whether thoroughbred racing at Suffolk Downs and harness racing at the Plainridge Racecourse enjoy a resurgence or grind to permanent halts. A yes vote in Tuesday’s referendum would allow Mohegan Sun to continue with a bid for a resort casino on land owned by Suffolk Downs in Revere.

On Friday, the commission is scheduled to award the single slots parlor license in Massachusetts, with Plainridge among three contenders. Both tracks are likely to close, their owners concede, if the votes don’t go their way. And for the estimated 4500 people in Massachusetts who derive income from racing — from horse owners to breeders, jockeys, trainers and track workers — the stakes are also high.

“This is a one and done deal,” said Billy Abdelnour, president of the New England Amateur Harness Drivers Club. “This will literally end, finish harness racing, because there is no one waiting in line to build a racetrack in Massachusetts.”

According to figures from the state racing commission and a report prepared for Suffolk Downs by Christiansen Capital Advisors, operating losses at the track ranged from $11.8 million to $26.4 million over a five-year period from 2007-2011. The track’s handle — the amount wagered on live races — has fallen nearly every year since 2000, from $27.6 million to 6.5 million in 2012, and its purse — the money paid out to horse owners — tumbled from $16 million in 2003 to $9.4 million in 2012.

Plainridge’s live handle fell from $2.4 million in 2007 to $1.5 million in 2011 and purses decreased from $3.1 million to $2.5 million during that period, according to a 2012 consultants’ report for the racing commission.

The travails of horse racing are not unique to Massachusetts, with comparable declines seen elsewhere in the U.S. and blamed largely on increased competition for gambling dollars from casinos and state lotteries. The “racino,” a facility that marries racing and casino gambling, has been one response around the country. Legislators who crafted Massachusetts’ 2011 expanded gambling law clearly saw potential for casinos to help bail out the racing industry. The law requires tracks that win gaming licenses to continue racing, and directs a small percentage of casino proceeds toward boosting purses.

The law, however, does not specifically direct the gambling commission to favor racinos or consider the survival of racing when making casino licensing decisions. The five-member panel has promised to weigh several factors, including potential economic development. Penn National Gaming, which has applied to operate Plainridge, says the introduction of slot machines revived racing at other facilities the company owns, including its Hollywood Casino brand in Charles Town, W. Va., and Bangor, Maine.

“We don’t look at racing as an afterthought,” said Eric Schippers, Penn National’s vice president for public affairs. “Racing is a critical added amenity that adds to the entertainment value of our customers.” Penn National is competing for the slots parlor license with Raynham Park, a former dog track, and Cordish Cos., which has proposed a facility in Leominster. Raynham’s application throws a slim lifeline to the harness industry by proposing up to 40 days of racing at Brockton Fairgrounds, the company said.

The Leominster plan does not include racing but takes a different approach, offering at least $1 million a year in gambling revenue to boost startup medical device technology firms in the region, according to Cordish’s president, Joseph Weinberg.
Re: Gov Candidate - Repeal Casino Legalization Law
24 Feb 2014
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Residents rally for casino

REVERE — Voters crowded among red, white and blue balloons, enlarged historical photographs of a busy Revere Beach, political signs and tables covered with donated local food to rally supporters two days before the city votes whether to approve a proposed casino. “Get out and stand up for all of us in this room and across this city,” Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo said Sunday to about 400 people packed into the Joseph L. Mottolo VFW Post. “This will be one of the best things that’s happened in this city for generations and probably for generations to come.”

Also on Sunday, about 200 people marched to Revere City Hall to protest the casino plans, led by members of some local churches and their clergy. Opponents have argued that a casino will bring crime and that the economic benefits will be far outweighed by social problems, such as addiction. Revere voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to approve of a $1.3-billion proposal by Mohegan Sun to operate a casino at Suffolk Downs. Just three months ago, the project appeared dead, after a proposal for a combined racetrack and casino on the Boston-Revere border was rejected by voters in East Boston, where the track is located. Revere voters overwhelmingly approved of the plan, however. If voters say yes on Tuesday, the casino would be allowed on land in Revere.

Rizzo noted Sunday he couldn’t recall a project in city history that had the support of the mayor’s office, the city council, police and fire chiefs, the school committee and other city officials. Under the latest proposal crafted by Suffolk Downs, Mohegan Sun and officials of the City of Revere, Mohegan Sun will operate the casino as a separate entity in Revere while Suffolk Downs has pledged to maintain racing for at least 15 years. The proposal, if approved Tuesday, will compete with a Wynn Resorts proposal in Everett for the sole resort casino license in Eastern Massachusetts.

Officials and citizens at Sunday’s rally urged attendees to work hard in the final stretch. Rizzo emphasized the economic benefits outlined in the host agreement of the proposal: 4,000 permanent jobs, including 800 to 1,000 jobs saved at Suffolk Downs; 2,500 construction jobs; a $33-million up-front payment to the city plus a $2-million renovation to Harry Della Russo Stadium and a $1 million new youth center; $40 million in annual payments; $10 million in spending at local businesses; and $45 million in local transportation improvements. Rizzo won cheers when he said the money would annually be devoted to local schools, toward property-tax relief and to ease water-and-sewer rates.

If voters approve the proposal Tuesday, he vowed to meet Wednesday with Superintendent of Schools Paul Dakin to sign a statement of interest for a new high school. Mitch Etess, chief executive officer of Mohegan Sun, said the casino proposal would make Revere “once again … become a world-class destination,” and that the agreement between the city and casino operator was unprecedented in the gaming industry.

Revere Chamber of Commerce President Bob Upton asked residents to remember when “Suffolk Downs was booming, Wonderland was booming…” and urged residents to think of the local benefits. “It’s not about the $10 million in local spending, 4,000 jobs, 2,500 construction jobs, it’s about the people for the jobs,” Upton said.

Louis Ciarlone, president of IBEW Local 123 of Suffolk Downs, also urged residents to show their hometown pride. He acknowledged that there was “very little chance” that Suffolk Downs would stay open without the casino and portrayed those in opposition to the casino as outsiders. “The same people are aligned with our opposition (who) closed down Wonderland,” he said.

Ciarlone also insisted, mentioning he was a Catholic, that there was “no sin in gaming or having a gambling establishment,” alluding to opposition to the casino from a group of local clergy. Ciarlone also praised local churches that did not take a position on the issue.

Local residents in attendance echoed officials’ praise for the proposal.

“It’s the best thing that we could have happen to us,” said Rose Napolitano, 81, and a lifelong city resident. She mentioned a previous effort to build a casino that failed a few decades earlier. “We’ve been waiting 20 years for this.”

Delma Dello Russo said the casino would create jobs. “A lot of people are out of work now,” she said. The mother of three said she tells her children they could get jobs at the casino once they graduate college. She dismissed possible negative impacts from gambling, such as gambling addiction and increased crime. “No matter where you go, things happen,” Della Russo said. But she didn’t want to dismiss the benefits the proposal offers. “Why give it away to someone else?” Della Russo asked. “If we have it here, people will come here. If they have it in Everett, people will go to Everett. Why not in our city?” Della Russo also mentioned a $1-million annual increase in school funding from casino money.

Florinda Cacicio and Matilda Bonfardeci, sisters who grew up in Revere and later returned to the city to raise children, said the support of the schools was a major factor in their decisions to support to the casino. “I see how important it is to get the money for our children,” Cacicio said. She said she has four children in public school, and one child’s elementary-school classroom has 32 students. “We need more new schools.” The women also said they were not worried about opponents’ concerns about the “evils” of gambling. Both also said some churches’ concerns were hypocritical, since they offer Bingo nights and sponsor bus trips to Mohegan Sun. “Nowadays it’s not just a casino, it has shops, shows, spas,” Bonfardeci said. “I wish we had that when I was younger … (opponents) make it seem like children will be gambling in a casino.”
Re: Gov Candidate - Repeal Casino Legalization Law
24 Feb 2014
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REVERE, Mass. — Organizers on both sides of the casino debate in Revere are making their last pushes to sway voters ahead of a referendum Tuesday in which voters will decide on a proposed $1 billion casino at the Suffolk Downs racetrack.

As early as 8 a.m. on Sunday, two casino supporters stood on the corner of Beach Street and Winthrop Avenue holding signs reading, “Jobs for Revere.” “You know the No. 1 way of stopping crime in America? Putting people to work,” said Tom Feeley, a member of the Immaculate Conception Church across the street. His pastor, George Szal, is one of the more vocal critics of the proposed casino, and one of hundreds who would march later that day from the parish to Revere City Hall.

“Atlantic City is known as a slum with casinos,” Szal said. “The suicide rate in Atlantic City went up as soon as the casinos were established.” Still, Szal admitted they have an uphill battle. The last casino referendum in Revere last November passed with 63 percent of the vote.

That proposal would have built the casino in both East Boston and Revere, but was scrapped after Boston voters rejected it. Under the new plan, the Mohegan Sun casino would only be built in Revere. But Szal said there was no organized movement against the casino last time. He said the real sentiment in town is more like a 50-50 split. “I’m very hopeful,” he said. ”With the help of God, and the good spirit of free people to voice their opinion without fear. And there’s been a lot of fear around. You know, I’ve had people tell me, ‘Father, I’m against it, but I can’t say it out loud.’ ”

Across town, supporters of the proposal gathered at the local VFW post for a rally that included city leaders and Mohegan Sun executives. “Gambling in Revere isn’t a new thing,” said Mohegan Sun CEO Mitchell Etess. “You’ve had Wonderland and Suffolk Downs here for years. You have gaming industry that’s put children through college, that’s put food on people’s tables. So they understand how it can benefit them.” Etess has said a casino at Suffolk Downs would create 4,000 jobs.

Louis Ciarlone, who represents workers at the track, said a casino would also save the jobs of the thousand or so people already working there. He said without the casino, the track will go out of business in the next 15 years. “I’ve read the Holy Bible,” Ciarlone said, addressing criticism from the religious community. “I’ve read it cover to cover four times. And I can’t find a place in that Bible that prohibits gambling or says it’s a sin.”

Even if the referendum passes, there is no guarantee Revere will get a casino. A competing proposal to build a casino in Everett has already passed with voters there. There is also an effort to repeal the state’s gaming law through a ballot question next fall.
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25 Feb 2014
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BOSTON — The Massachusetts Gaming Commission says it may have to push back the timetable for awarding the sole eastern Massachusetts resort casino license.

Because of a possible conflict of interest, the panel on Monday cut ties with a contractor that had been helping review surrounding community petitions for casino proposals in Everett and Revere.

Commissioners had been hoping to award the eastern license by May 30 and while that timetable is still possible, a delay in reviewing the petitions could push the decision back to the end of June. Such a delay could have implications for the state budget, which anticipates an $85 million casino licensing fee in the current fiscal year that ends June 30. The sole western Massachusetts casino license is still slated to be awarded by May 30.
Re: Gov Candidate - Repeal Casino Legalization Law
25 Feb 2014
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There is a Youtub video -
Revere mayor Rizzo talks about the casino project
Re: Gov Candidate - Repeal Casino Legalization Law
25 Feb 2014
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Supporters and opponents of Mohegan Sun’s proposed Revere casino dispatched observers to polling places today where residents are voting on the proposal to build a $1.3 billion gaming resort at Suffolk Downs.

“It’s very common,” said Mohegan CEO Mitchell Etess. “I wouldn’t be shocked if both sides had observers.”

Lisa Sturgis of Winthrop, which has been designated a surrounding community entitled to mitigation money if Mohegan Sun’s casino is built, was at Garfield Elementary School in Revere as an observer, writing down the names and addresses of voters “to make sure that no ones votes twice.”

“You watch and if you also saw anyone with signs (supporting or opposing the casino), you can report it,” she said, declining to say which side she was on.

Tony Decaneas, an observer with the group Don’t Gamble on Revere, was at the VFW Post 6712.

“I’m here to observe and make sure there are no shenanigans,” he said.

Revere Mayor Daniel Rizzo, who traveled the city throughout the day, urging people to vote for the casino, said he “wasn’t aware at all” that there were observers at some polling places, but he wasn’t surprised that someone from Winthrop was at one.

“As a surrounding community, they’re concerned about what the outcome will be,” Rizzo said. “Winthrop is a great neighbor, and they’re going to find a lot of the same benefits from a casino.”

Brian McNiff, a spokesman for Secretary of State William Galvin, said the law permits people to observe elections, provided they do not interfere.

“There’s nothing wrong with it,” McNiff said. “Usually, they have a voting list with them to mark off who votes.”

Demonstrators on both sides of the issue stood with signs outside polling places throughout the day.

Among them was Jim Alcott, a 46-year-old Suffolk Downs employee from Saugus who braced himself against the wind with a “Revere says yes” sign.

“I’ve worked at the track for 22 years,” he said, “and I’m hoping Revere votes yes for this casino so we can keep thoroughbred horse racing alive.”

With him was Andy DeRosa, 58, of Revere who has worked at Suffolk Downs for 33 years.

“I’d like to keep the (track’s 800) jobs,” DeRosa said. “It should be good for the city and the state. They’ll hire more police and firemen. Revere will be a good place to live.”

On the other side of Broadway stood John Rogers, who said he hadn’t slept all night because he was hanging “Vote no casino” signs on the homes of residents who he said had requested them.

Rogers, 29, of East Boston was still angry that his first vote against a proposed casino at Suffolk Downs last fall had been ignored, and the racetrack had simply found a new casino operator and moved the site of the project to the portion of its property in Revere.

“It should have been a dead deal after the last vote; I feel like my vote didn’t matter,” he said. “The politicians here think this casino is an exception, that it won’t bring drugs, that it won’t bring crime. They truly think it will help, but they’ve drunk the Kool-Aid.”

City Council President Anthony Zambuto said that under Revere’s host community agreement with Mohegan Sun, the city could receive as much as $40 million a year in casino revenue and about 20 percent of the 4,000 permanent jobs it will create.

“They’re misguided,” Zambuto said of the opponents. “This is going to help poor people. It’s going to be a regional project. It’s going to lift all boats.”

At Garfield Elementary School, voters were divided about whether a casino would benefit Revere.

“I’d like to see Revere get all the things (Mohegan Sun) promised,” including 4,000 permanent jobs, said an 84-year-old woman, who voted yes but declined to give her name.

Marcelo Pineda voted no, saying that the disadvantages of a casino would outweigh any benefits.

“We don’t like casinos because they would bring a lot of bad things to the city, like crime and drugs,” Pineda said.

John Lopes voted for the casino, saying it would be good for the local economy.

“It’s going to bring tourists from downtown Boston,” Lopes said as he left the polling place at the local VFW. “A lot of people see casinos as just about gambling. But there will be restaurants and entertainment. You have to look at the big picture, I think, including jobs. I love Revere, and I think it can use an uplift.”

Estefany Lozada, 22, voted against the casino, saying it would change the way of life in Revere.

“I’ve been living here four years, and it’s really nice to live here,” Lozada said. “With a casino, there would be a lot of traffic, crime, and rents would go up, which I can’t afford because I’m in college.”
Re: Gov Candidate - Repeal Casino Legalization Law
25 Feb 2014
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Revere residents to cast vote on casino

A large voter turnout is anticipated in Revere today for a referendum that will decide whether Mohegan Sun can move forward with its proposal to build a $1.3 billion resort casino on land owned by the Suffolk Downs thoroughbred racetrack. The proposal emerged after voters in East Boston rejected an earlier plan by Suffolk Downs to build a casino along the Boston-Revere border. Revere voters had approved of that plan, but the Massachusetts Gaming Commission ruled that another vote must be held because of the dramatically different nature of the Mohegan Sun proposal, which would sit entirely in Revere.

A host community agreement reached in December would guarantee the city up to $33 million in up-front payments and between $25 million and $30 million in annual payments if the casino was built.

Mayor Dan Rizzo is lobbying residents to approve the plan, saying it will “transform” the city and secure its economic future for generations to come. He has also suggested that revenues from the casino could be used to build a new high school in the coastal city. “No other proposal in the history of our city has ever offered the benefits to individuals, families, and local businesses like this does,” Rizzo said.

Casino opponents say any financial windfall would be offset by the negative impacts of gambling.

“We know there is going to be an increase in crime, addiction, poverty and a general decrease in the quality of life in Revere,” said Joe Catricala, co-chair of the group Don’t Gamble on Revere.

Catricala, 29, said he commutes daily to a job in Boston and is skeptical of Mohegan Sun’s plans for alleviating traffic congestion. Religious leaders of several faiths held a news conference earlier in the month to urge defeat of the referendum, arguing a casino would bring more social ills to Revere.

Opponents, however, concede they face an uphill fight. According to a campaign finance report filed on Feb. 8, Mohegan Sun contributed $400,000 to a committee formed to help win passage of the referendum. Don’t Gamble on Revere said it had raised just over $11,000 through Feb. 7, according to its report. The group has alleged heavy-handed campaign tactics by elected city leaders who back the casino.

The state’s 2011 expanded gambling law allows for three regional resort casinos in Massachusetts. If Revere voters approve Tuesday’s referendum, Mohegan Sun will be in competition for the east region license with Wynn Resorts, which has proposed a $1.6 billion casino along the Mystic River in Everett, only a few miles from the Revere site.

The gambling commission has said it expects to award the license by May 30. While it would have no direct role in operating the casino, Suffolk Downs has pledged to use proceeds from its Mohegan Sun lease to guarantee continued racing at the track for at least 15 years.
Re: Gov Candidate - Repeal Casino Legalization Law
26 Feb 2014
REVERE — A billion-dollar resort casino proposal was left in the hands of voters in Revere on Tuesday. The referendum will determine whether Mohegan Sun can move forward with its $1.3 billion proposal and compete with Wynn Resorts for the sole eastern Massachusetts resort casino license.

A "no" vote would kill the Revere plan.

Strong feelings were evident on both sides in the blue collar city of about 53,000 residents just north of Boston. Home to Revere Beach, the nation's first public beach, the city has struggled economically in recent decades and had an estimated unemployment rate of 7.2 percent at the end of 2013, according to state figures. Along a section of Broadway, one of the city's main arteries, casino backers and foes held signs Tuesday on opposite sides of the roadway, near a polling place. Motorists would occasionally honk horns to signal support for one group or the other.

Kevin Russell, a Revere resident and union carpenter, said the casino would be a "win-win" for the city, with the potential to create new jobs and generate revenue that would lead to lower property taxes and water bills. He dismissed critics' concerns that the facility could bring an uptick in crime. "They're not going to build a billion-dollar casino to have bad elements there," said Russell. "They want to bring in the good element with people coming from out of state, flying in, driving down."

Members of Revere's clergy have come out strongly against the casino in recent weeks, citing the dangers of gambling addiction and other social ills. "It's a slayer of souls," said the Rev. George Szal, of the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, as he held a sign urging a no vote. "It's a slayer of families and ultimately of the community itself."

The casino vote was the second in Revere in recent months. In November, voters approved an earlier proposal at the Suffolk Downs racetrack on the Boston-Revere line, but voters in the East Boston neighborhood rejected it. The new plan called for the casino to be built entirely in Revere, on land owned by Suffolk Downs.

Mayor Dan Rizzo said the casino would secure the city's economic future for generations, pointing to a host community agreement with Mohegan Sun would guarantee Revere up to $33 million in upfront payments and between $25 million and $30 million in annual payments if the casino was built.

Supporters heavily outspent opponents in the weeks leading up to the vote. A campaign finance report filed Feb. 8 shows that Mohegan Sun contributed $400,000 to a committee formed to help win passage of the referendum. The opposition group Don't Gamble on Revere said it had raised just over $11,000 through Feb. 7, according to its report.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will have the final say on the awarding of casino licenses. Wynn Resorts has proposed a $1.6 billion resort casino in Everett, barely three miles from the Revere site. The commission on Tuesday separately began final deliberations on the awarding of the license for the only slots parlor — a smaller type of casino — that is allowed under the state's gambling law. The panel is choosing between proposals in Leominster, Plainville and Raynham, with a decision expected by Friday.
Re: Gov Candidate - Repeal Casino Legalization Law
27 Feb 2014
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Revere voters for the second time have overwhelmingly approved a proposed casino at the Suffolk Downs racetrack.
The tally was 63 percent to 37 percent in favor of the proposed $1.3 billion Mohegan Sun casino, according to Suffolk Downs’ officials.

“Today Revere said yes to jobs,” Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo said last night. “We needed a yes vote and Revere delivered. The best is yet to come for Revere. This is our time.”
The vote came after an intense campaign that saw Mohegan Sun pump $400,000 into the campaign and tens of thousands of dollars gathered by opposition groups, including a group of Revere religious leaders and the local chapter of a hospitality workers union.

Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle, whose racetrack was denied a popular vote in East Boston in November, was relieved.
“Second chances are a great thing in life,” he said.

Mohegan Sun CEO Mitchell Etess, whose group has submitted casino plans for Revere’s portion of the Suffolk Downs racetrack, said this gives them an edge with the state Gaming Commission.
“This is definitely the best second chance ever,” he said. “You have put us on the road to win this license for the city. We’re going to win this license.”

Today’s vote was the second casino vote in the city in just over three months. Revere voters in November approved a proposal at Suffolk Downs, on the East Boston line, but East Boston rejected it.
John Lopes voted for the casino, saying it will be good for the local economy.

“It’s going to bring tourists from downtown Boston,” Lopes said as he left the polling place at the local VFW. “A lot of people see casinos as just about gambling. But there will be restaurants and entertainment. You have to look at the big picture, I think, including jobs. I love Revere, and I think it can use an uplift.”

Estefany Lozada, 22, voted against the casino, saying it would change the way of life in Revere.
“I’ve been living here four years, and it’s really nice to live here,” Lozada said. “With a casino, there would be a lot of traffic, crime, and rents would go up, which I can’t afford because I’m in college.”
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Re: Gov Candidate - Repeal Casino Legalization Law
28 Feb 2014
Penn National awarded license for Mass. slots

BOSTON — Officials of Penn National Gaming, the first company to hold a license for expanded gambling in Massachusetts, said Friday they would begin construction planning next week at the Plainridge harness racetrack with an eye toward opening a slots parlor there by next spring.

The state gambling commission voted formally on Friday to grant the five-year operating license to Wyomissing-Pa.-based Penn National after the company agreed to 18 mostly technical conditions attached to the award.

"Congratulations and welcome to Massachusetts," commission chairman Stephen Crosby told Penn National executives immediately after the unanimous vote, which came one day after the panel voted 3-2 in favor of the Plainville facility. Crosby had supported a competing bid from Cordish Cos. for a slots parlor in Leominster, but he and Commissioner James McHugh, who also backed Leominster, joined with the three other commissioners in the licensing vote.

Crosby had nothing but praise for Penn National on Friday, noting the company had promised to create 1,000 construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs, secure the future of harness racing and attack problem gambling.

The license was the first awarded by the commission under the state's 2011 gambling law that also allows for up to three resort casinos. The smaller casino in Plainville will be limited to 1,250 slot machines with no Las Vegas-style table games.

Tim Wilmott, Penn National's chief executive, said the company was aware of the competition it would likely face from larger casinos in Massachusetts.

"We are not afraid of competition," Wilmott said. "We like the fact that we are going to get a head start and be able to develop relationships with customers at our facilities for a couple of years before other competition comes in. We think the market is big enough."

The commission is expected to vote in the coming months on casino licenses in the greater Boston area and in western Massachusetts. Additionally, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe is seeking federal approval for a tribal casino in Taunton, about 17 miles from Plainridge.

Officials expect the slots parlor to generate $250 million in tax revenue for Massachusetts over the first two years and $60 million in future years after other casinos open.

Wilmott said the company would launch an aggressive marketing campaign, including television, online and outdoor advertising, not only to attract new business but also to capture gamblers from Massachusetts who now travel south to gamble at Twin River casino, less than a half hour away in Lincoln, R.I.

Twin River recently added table games to slot machines, in anticipation of competition from Massachusetts.

Penn National executives were visiting Plainridge on Friday to celebrate the license with about 100 current employees. Wilmott said a design team would be at the track Monday to begin planning for construction of the slots parlor, and hoped to announce a groundbreaking date soon.

Penn National has not ruled out the possibility of seeking a partial opening within six months, but Wilmott added a permanent facility was likely to make a better first impression on customers.

Still looming is the possibility of a ballot question that would ask Massachusetts voters to repeal the casino law.

"We're not going to slow down our construction process with this threat out there," said Wilmott. "If there is a ballot question in November we're going to fight for the right outcome."

The commission would seek a mechanism for refunding hefty licensing fees paid by casino companies in the unlikely chance the law is abolished, Crosby said.

The group Repeal the Casino Deal has asked the state's highest court to overturn a ruling by Attorney General Martha Coakley that the ballot question is unconstitutional.
Re: Gov Candidate - Repeal Casino Legalization Law
06 Mar 2014
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Gambler sues casino for losing $500,000 while drunk

A businessman who lost $500,000 on table games at a Las Vegas casino on Super Bowl weekend is arguing that he shouldn't have to pay because he was blackout drunk.

Southern California gambler Mark Johnston, 52, is suing the Downtown Grand for loaning him money and serving him drinks when he was visibly intoxicated.

Nevada law bars casinos from allowing obviously drunk patrons to gamble and from serving them comped drinks.

Johnston's attorney, Sean Lyttle, says the Grand, which opened last November in the old part of Las Vegas, intends to pursue Johnston for trying to shirk his gambling debts. Johnston put a stop-payment order on the markers, or casino credits, the Grand issued, and is also seeking damages from the Grand for sullying his name.

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Johnston says he was thoroughly drunk during the hours he spent playing pai gow and blackjack at the Grand. His legal team plans to rely on eyewitness testimony and surveillance video to prove that he was visibly intoxicated.

Johnston lives in Ventura and made his fortune in car dealership and real estate ventures.

The Grand issued a statement saying it does not comment on pending litigation.

The state Gaming Control Board is investigating.

"It's certainly an extraordinary case. This is not a story that I've ever heard before, where someone was blackout intoxicated where they couldn't read their cards, and yet a casino continued to serve them drinks and issue them more markers," Lyttle said. "It's a very heavy-handed and unusual approach that we haven't seen in this town in a long time."

Johnston arrived in Las Vegas with the woman he was dating on the Thursday before the Super Bowl. He drank in the limousine from the Las Vegas airport to the Grand, drank more during dinner with friends, and then says he blacked out.

The suit alleges that the Grand comped him dozens of drinks while he gambled away hundreds of thousands of dollars, finally sleeping off his drunkenness on that Saturday, which was Feb, 1. Johnston says he didn't learn how much he had lost until the next day.

RECOMMENDED: Online gambling 101: What the new gambling expansion means for states


Hannah Dreier