Should Boston build a Casino?

Should a Casino be built at Suffolk Downs?


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KentXie

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As you know, casinos provides money and attract tourists. However they also attract crimes, traffics, and etc.. Do you think they should build one at Suffolk Downs?

Boston Herald said:
Casino Menino: Mayor sees Suffolk as destination resort
By Scott Van Voorhis
Boston Herald Business Reporter


Friday, July 13, 2007 - Updated: 05:50 AM EST

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino yesterday raised the stakes in the race to bring casino gambling to the Bay State, throwing his support behind the idea of building a Foxwoods-style gaming palace at East Boston?s Suffolk Downs racetrack.

Menino, who has backed putting slot machines at Suffolk Downs and other racetracks in the past, said he now believes a destination casino with restaurants, hotels and shops is a better option.

?It can be a tourist location where people can come to go to a show and a dinner,? Menino said. ?I am looking out for the best interests of the taxpayers.?

Such a massive development would also provide a new stream of tax revenue at a time when cities and towns are scrambling to find ways of raising extra cash, he said.

Menino said he recently met the new lead owner of Suffolk Downs, Richard Fields, at a charity function at the track, but had not yet seen formal plans that the Big Apple developer is drawing up for the struggling racetrack.

Menino said he would be open to meeting with the Mashpee Wampanoags, who are running into some opposition in Middleboro to their plans to build a resort casino there.

While a Suffolk Downs casino would compete with the Wampanoags? current plans, a spokesman for the tribe said they?d be happy to talk with Menino and Fields.

In fact, Fields, Suffolk Downs? new lead owner, has already developed a major casino resort in Florida for the Seminole Tribe.

The mayor is the latest - and one of the most influential - in a growing chorus of political power players to come out in support of large-scale casino development.

?That is big,? said Clyde Barrow, a University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth professor and gaming industry expert. ?We have never seen this many important political figures line up in favor of casino gambling.?

Ideas being discussed for Suffolk Downs include a $1 billion destination casino resort that would have hundreds of shops, dozens of restaurants, an arena for shows and other entertainment venues, according to one executive familiar with the plans.

In a statement, Chip Tuttle, a spokesman for Suffolk Downs, said the racetrack appreciated Menino?s support. ?Should the state move to expand gaming, we?d be open to discussing the benefits Suffolk Downs brings,? he said.

Menino?s comments come as a panel appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick to study the costs and benefits of opening the Bay State to expanded gambling wraps up its research.

The panel will make a presentation to the governor in a few weeks, said Kofi Jones, a spokeswoman for Dan O?Connell, the state?s secretary of housing and economic development.

Menino?s endorsement of an East Boston casino adds crucial momentum to the drive to bring casino gambling to Massachusetts.

State Treasurer Tim Cahill recently came out in support of a casino to compete with a $1 billion destination resort proposed by the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe. State Sen. President Therese Murray has also voiced support for expanded gambling.

Not everyone is enamored with the idea of a casino in East Boston, including state Sen. Anthony Petrucelli, who represents the area.

?These neighborhoods are impacted by the international airport, three tunnels and a major highway. How much more can we take?? Petrucelli said.
 

Beton Brut

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I voted no, but I want to qualify it, as the poll doesn't offer much of a choice. I'm no prude, and have no issue with casino gambling or horse racing (I do find dog racing to be unsavory). The issue here is location; you'll have to take me at my word that my opposition to a casino at Suffolk Downs has little to do with its physical proximity to my home (a Tiger Woods T-shot from my front yard).

Recycled from an earlier post on the "Suffolk Downs" thread:

Beton Brut said:
The issue that no one has addressed is a simple fact of infrastructure. As it stands today, the existing roads, mainly the McClellan Highway (Rt. 1A) are wholly inadequate for their current traffic volume, with numerous stoplights and ill-conceived traffic circles. The road is a bottleneck until it joins Rt 1 in northern Revere. This would have been less of an issue had I-95 been pushed north to Danvers in the 70's, but Governor Sargent put a moratorium on construction, and the land was sold to developers during the first Dukakis administration (yet another case of the 'burbs sticking it to the urbs).

Though I can't speak for my neighbors, I think trading the tank-farm for a "destination" like a casino would be acceptable, though my preference would be for a grid of streets and two dozen McAllen buildings, centered around transit nodes at Beachmont and Suffolk Downs stations.

Past proposals for the site (that were eliminated for the same traffic issues I've mentioned) included a replacement for the Boston Garden, a Tweeter Center style venue, and a new home for the Pats. I saw Radiohead there a few years back (walked to and from the gig) and though the concert was great, the traffic was an ill managed nightmare that lasted until 2AM.
The Boston Globe said:
Not everyone is enamored with the idea of a casino in East Boston, including state Sen. Anthony Petrucelli, who represents the area.

"These neighborhoods are impacted by the international airport, three tunnels and a major highway. How much more can we take?" Petrucelli said.
I predict that young Anthony will fold like an umbrella on this issue. Experience shows that East Boston's most astute and long-serving pols shore up their power by keeping the community in a prolonged state of semi-peril.
 

Ron Newman

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It looks like the commuter rail to Lynn goes close enough to Suffolk Downs that a stop could be added, somwhere around where Route 1 and Winthrop avenue cross. Wouldn't that be sufficient to address the traffic problems, provided service was frequent enough?

Looking at the map, I see a Railroad Street right there, suggesting that there used to be a station stop.

(I still vote no, though.)
 

czsz

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Proposals for casino gambling always feel like last-ditch acts of desperation promoted by failing cities. Does Boston really have an economic need for this?

Perhaps if gambling were limited to one, stylish casino in a location where it's not likely to become part of some bettor's paradise, it might serve to enhance the city's appeal for visitors. Something on one of the Harbor Islands, like the casino in Montreal?
 

Beton Brut

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Ron Newman said:
It looks like the commuter rail to Lynn goes close enough to Suffolk Downs that a stop could be added, somewhere around where Route 1 and Winthrop avenue cross. Wouldn't that be sufficient to address the traffic problems, provided service was frequent enough?

Looking at the map, I see a Railroad Street right there, suggesting that there used to be a station stop.
It's a nice idea (even without the casino), but that's an impossible site, hemmed in by light-industrial buildings, a new discount airport hotel, petrochemical infrastructure (much of it underground) and old, ill-maintained viaducts, all on the wrong side of a traffic-choked highway. Access to Suffolk Downs would be via the Revere Beach Parkway, equally snarled several hours most days. There was never a passenger station on Railroad Street; it's little more than a one-way alley, running between the Parkway and 1A south-bound.

In any event, most folks drive to and from casinos; unless they spurred the Blue Line in a loop onto the property, rail is not an effective solution to the problems this proposal will create. When my father was a kid, in the days of the Narrow Gauge Railroad (the current Blue Line ROW) and streetcars on Bennington Street, the trolleys ran right into Suffolk Downs; the old tracks are still visible on the track-side of Suffolk Downs Station, embedded in old cobblestones.
 

budman3

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re

I think a casino in a more European sense, sort of like Montreal's, would maybe be alright. Many cities in Europe have Casino's as more of a night club sort of structure than a Foxwoods, and I have always advocated for something like that on the South Boston Waterfront.

But the cities that have these casino's aren't cities like Boston, which has its respectable and unrelated industries keeping its heart beating. Because of this on some level I think even a European-style casino wouldn't be very beneficial to the city.

Boston could use (I wouldn't say needs) an entertainment district outside of the Theater District, and the South Boston Waterfront I really think could've provided that and integrated a new neighborhood (with residences) into the mix if done successfully. But a casino would change many things about Boston, including devaluing our prized cultural institutions on some level by promoting a large alternative.

Generally, a casino in Boston is not the road we are on or have ever been on, and though it could work out beautifully, our tourism and convention industry are thriving and are not Boston's only lifeline. We really are doing fine without it, and there are different paths that are more appropriate for the city at the time that are being pursued already.
 

Ron Newman

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Re: re

budman3 said:
Boston could use (I wouldn't say needs) an entertainment district outside of the Theater District
We've got Lansdowne Street and Allston Rock City, but I can't see a casino really benefiting either of those areas either.
 

Beton Brut

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czsz said:
Perhaps if gambling were limited to one, stylish casino in a location where it's not likely to become part of some bettor's paradise, it might serve to enhance the city's appeal for visitors. Something on one of the Harbor Islands, like the casino in Montreal?
I like this idea.

Another option would be the Bayside Expo Center site. Nice harbor and skyline views, direct access to I-93 and the Red Line.
 

palindrome

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I would much rather see a casino in New Bedford, or another town that seems to need one for the economic benefit (providing there is one, and that it outweighs the social negatives--lets not get off subject), than i would in Boston. Like someone else said, casino's seem to be of last economic resort to change economies. Something i would hope boston would never need!

Of course the infrastructure around Suffolk downs would need a serious upgrade, but that can be paid for by the Casino. I know there is a blue line stop for Suffolk downs, but is that actually at the track? I was under the assumption that it was a park and ride stop. I know the beechmont stop is real close too.

Would the casino replace the track, or would the track remain with a new complex being built on site? If so, is there enough land for the scale development Menino seems to want to build? I know there is alot of open land out there, but is there enough?

A casino would increase other developments around East Boston, including new restaurants and other attractions. That would be a nice benefit. Maybe we could see an urbanization of the area where the target is. (Another thing...is there 2 targets around there? I swear there are 2 withing 3 miles of each other, or maybe i was seeing things?)

Albeit i have never been to either due to my age, from what I have seen, I would much rather have a Mohegan Sun, then a Foxwoods. Mohegan Sun seems like more of a destination, whereas Foxwoods seems like a casino. Again though, i have been to neither, and am only going off what people have told me and pictures i have seen from their websites.
 

Ron Newman

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Yes, you can easily walk to the track from the Blue Line stop. I've never gone to the track, but I've gone to Cirque de Soleil when they used to set up their tent there.
 

czsz

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To expand on my earlier thoughts - the city should be cautious about how this affects the city's nightlife economy. When tourists and locals alike sink all their money into a casino, that means there's less to spread around at bars and clubs and shops and restaurants. Above all things the city should focus on the synergy between drunken people and their capacity to spend - and facilitate it.
 

Beton Brut

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Ron Newman said:
Yes, you can easily walk to the track from the Blue Line stop.
Very true, Ron. Pretend you're a proponent of this project: what percentage of patrons do you believe would take public transportation to a casino built at this location? What percentage would arrive via motor-coach? What percentage would drive in their own cars?
 

palindrome

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I think it depends on how the casino is marketed. For example, i am sure a good percentage of the over 21 college population would take the train, as well as city residents, and tourists who have come to Boston, but not just for the casino. Still, the majority of people would be coming from outside of Boston, and they would be driving/motorcoaching.

One thing to remeber...the blue line shuts down before 1am. Not good for a 24 hour casino.
 

underground

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Maybe the State's cut of the casino money could go to funding 24 hr T service? It would be a pretty large chunk of change. Although, the argument could be made that the money is already earmarked for the school system, as that's where the majority of the lottery money goes.
 

Scott

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I like the idea of the SB Waterfront near the Convention Center. The Bayside is too near UMASS and would probably be opposed by the neighbors.
 

czsz

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24-hour T service will never become a reality. The very best Boston could ever hope for is an extension of service to 2, 3, or 4am.
 

Beton Brut

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Scott said:
I like the idea of the SB Waterfront near the Convention Center.
A fine choice for a number of reasons. The good people of South Boston may disagree with you on this, though their claims to the area are somewhat dubious IMHO.

Scott said:
The Bayside is too near UMASS...
Are your concerns based on 20-something college students gambling away their tuition money? Is this any worse than a blue collar family-man doing the same? Pick your poison...

Scott said:
...and would probably be opposed by the neighbors.
Is the opposition of Dorchester and South Boston residents worth more than similar opposition from East Boston and Revere?

My suggestion of the Bayside site is based on its close proximity to an interstate highway and public transportation. Route 1A, that would serve the Suffolk Downs site, simply can't handle the volume of traffic that I-93 can.
 

Ron Newman

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People around Suffolk Downs are already used to having a gambling enterprise (actually, two of them) in their midst. So I doubt there would be much opposition there, compared to Southie or Dorchester.
 

Beton Brut

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Ron Newman said:
People around Suffolk Downs are already used to having a gambling enterprise (actually, two of them) in their midst.
This is a true statement, but it fails utterly to address the issues and concerns that I've raised with regard to the impact of vehicular traffic on the roads leading to and from Suffolk Downs. There's also a big difference between seasonal, daylight-only horse-racing and a 24/7/365 casino.

Ron Newman said:
So I doubt there would be much opposition there, compared to Southie or Dorchester.
I think you misjudge the sentiments and priorities of people in East Boston, Revere, (and Winthrop, Chelsea, and Everett).

And historically, there's been plenty of gambling in both Southie and Dorchester -- it just takes place without the oversight of the Commonwealth.
 

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