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East Boston Is Getting a Casino. You Got a Problem with That?

That special City Council committee to look into a casino in East Boston? Yeah, that's over. Council President Stephen J. Murphy, magnanimously saying he did not "have a monopoly on good ideas," yanked the plug on the committee, saying the idea of a $1 billion resort-style casino at Suffolk Downs in Eastie would be taken up by an existing council conclave. And, as we mentioned on Monday, the council is all but a rubber stamp for Mayor Tom Menino on issues like this (well, on issues like everything) and Hizzoner really wants a casino at Suffolk Downs. So it looks like there will be casino at Suffolk Downs. It was written in the stars—and the law. Per Noah Bierman in the The Globe:

The new casino law was written to allow the horse track’s owners to bypass a requirement that the entire city vote on a casino proposal. For Boston Springfield, and Worcester, the law dictates that only the local ward or neighborhood votes, unless the mayor and city council opt to hold a citywide referendum. ... Mayor Thomas M. Menino is unequivocal in his support for limiting the vote to East Boston and, as required by law, the neighboring city of Revere. ...

And the City Council, though divided, appears unwilling so far to buck Menino, even as some councilors argue that denying a citywide referendum would disenfranchise their own voters, according to recent interviews.

Here's the kicker. The idea to tie a Suffolk Downs O.K. to the gaping hole left by the old Filene's in Downtown Crossing? That appears done for, too. The owner of the hole, Vornado Realty Trust of crossing-guard training program New Jersey, also owns a 20 percent stake in Suffolk Downs. The speculation had been that the Menino administration and the council would tie the two together—no development in Downtown Crossing, no casino in East Boston. Never mind. Vornado gets the casino and the gaping hole.

We leave you with this, from Andrew Ryan at The Globe:

Salvatore LaMattina, a councilor who lives in East Boston and who supports a casino, had been tapped to lead the special committee. In hindsight, LaMattina said that could have been a mistake. “I just don’t think it would have been fair for the council, because I strongly believe that a vote on a casino should be strictly an East Boston vote,’’ LaMattina said yesterday. “I look at this strictly as a development issue.’’

How the sausage—and neighborhoods—get made.

· Council Drops Casino Panel Plan [Globe]
· Suffolk Casino Plan on Easier Track [Globe]
· Why East Boston Will Get the Casino [Curbed Boston]
· Downtown Crossing's Filene's Site, East Boston Casino: Tied? [Curbed Boston]

Suffolk Downs

525 William F McClellan Highway, , MA 02128 (617) 568-3216 Visit Website