Monday, December 9, 2013

Latest: No Eastie Casino Calls on Massachusetts Gaming Commission To Uphold Expanded Gaming Act and Declare Revere-Only Casino Illegal

Download the full PDF version of No Eastie Casino's comments  

In advance of the Commission's public meeting
BOSTON, Mass., Dec. 9, 2013 - Today, No Eastie Casino, a registered municipal ballot question committee organized to stop a casino at Suffolk Downs, again registered its disapproval with a plan to push forward with a Mohegan Sun casino on the Revere side of the track's property -- despite a clear "no" from 8,513 residents of Revere and East Boston in referendums on Nov. 5.

No Eastie Casino is joined by all of East Boston's elected officials and the editors of theBoston Globe in declaring the completely new plan for a Revere gaming license advanced by former applicant Suffolk Downs and the city of Revere as an affront to the letter, spirit, and clear intent of the 2011 Expanded Gaming Act. As stated in formal comments submitted to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, No Eastie Casino demands that the City of Revere and the applicants follow the law as written. Full public confidence in the casino licensing process requires nothing less.

"We believe that public confidence stands in imminent jeopardy of irreparable harm for as long as this Commission continues to consider the gaming establishment presently proposed for development in Revere in the absence of a new host community agreement and referendum, both of which are required by law," writes Matt Cameron, No Eastie Casino's general counsel, in the group's comments to the Commission.

The comments go on to lay out a thorough case for why the Commission must deny Mohegan Sun's request to move forward with casino plans on the Suffolk Downs property in Revere without a new host community agreement and vote. Countering the narrative put forth by officials from Revere, Suffolk Downs and Mohegan Sun -- essentially that the affirmative vote on Nov. 5 was a blank check for casino anywhere in the city -- No Eastie Casino asserts that the revised casino proposal bears no resemblance to the deal Revere officials negotiated and that voters approved. Suffolk Downs is no longer an applicant for the casino
license on its property, nor is horse racing directly tied to casino operations -- two assumptions voters heard repeatedly throughout Suffolk Downs' campaign leading up to the Nov. 5 referendum. 

"No one has voted on the plan that Mohegan Sun is presenting. The players, the project and the details have changed," said Celeste Myers, co-chair of No Eastie Casino. "We cannot assign votes to an entirely different project that the public has not considered."

Proof the Mohegan Sun Casino Proposal is Not What Revere Voters Approved on Nov. 5

As a supplement to its written comments, No Eastie Casino also submitted to the Commission a collection of video clips showing Revere and Suffolk Downs officials contradicting the narrative they've been telling of the casino proposal since the referendum. In one clip, dated Oct. 19, Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo is seen telling constituents that Suffolk Downs' plans called for "not one ounce" of construction within Revere city limits. Several video clips show Suffolk Downs Chief Operating Officer Chip Tuttle telling audiences prior to Nov. 5 that Suffolk Downs was the entity seeking a casino license, and "has been all along." And in another clip, Suffolk Downs co-owner Joseph O'Donnell, speaking the day the track signed its host community agreement with the City of Boston, appears to say the track would respect the decision East Boston voters make at the polls on Nov. 5.

"The community, East Boston, will make that decision," O'Donnell, the a co-owner at the track for more than 27 years, said at the City Hall press conference. "That's why they'll have an election, and that's a decision that's up to them. Far be it from me to tell them what they can do. We'll live with whatever that answer is."

Within minutes of word that East Boston had resoundingly voted down the Suffolk Downs casino plan, however, track officials were already talking to the press about plans to develop the casino on the Revere side of its property. But the law required that the proposal earn an affirmative vote in both communities to advance, and Myers said the democratic process may be at stake if the Commission chooses not to respect her neighborhood's vote. 

In addition to its legal analysis of a revised Mohegan Sun casino, No Eastie Casino in its written comments to the Commission also called on Chairman Stephen Crosby to recuse himself from any further deliberations or decisions pertaining to a casino in Eastern Massachusetts. Last week, the Boston Globe reported that Crosby had waited more than 10 months to disclose a decades-long personal and business connection to the co-owner of the Everett parcel where Steve Wynn has proposed a casino. Crosby also has admitted to being a longtime acquaintance of Suffolk Downs' O'Donnell, with whom he played football at Harvard.

In calling for Crosby to recuse himself from Region A casino deliberations, the group refers to a statute in the Massachusetts General Law that prohibits even the appearance of  impropriety or bias with regard to public officials.

"We believe it is imperative that Mr. Crosby comply with the terms of the conflicts law and make public a letter outlining in detail why no reasonable person can conclude that his participation meets the test of the law," No Eastie Casino's comment states. "That letter should be approved by his appointing authority, prior to his taking any further action on this matter."

The Gaming Commission will take up the issue of a Mohegan Sun casino in Revere at its meeting Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 1 p.m., in room 151 of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Casino opponents from Revere and East Boston will be present at the meeting, as will spokespeople from No Eastie Casino.