For months, the smart money has been on Revere and East Boston residents approving a proposed Suffolk Downs casino. But now, with just two weeks left until the vote, Suffolk Downs and casino giant Caesars Entertainment are parting ways — and casino opponents think their odds just got better.
A rally against a proposed Suffolk Downs casino drew a massive crowd to East Boston’s Holy Redeemer Church Sunday. At the event, a bevy of clergy from different faiths preached the same message: God doesn’t want a casino at Suffolk Downs.
"These people coming here with their filthy money to try to ruin our lives, and our children’s lives, we’re not gonna allow them, are we?" a Muslim imam asked at the rally.
"A casino is not good for families, it is not good for marriage, it is not good for the Gospel," a Christian preacher said.
The crowd’s enthusiasm may have been heightened by a surprise twist in the casino sweepstakes. Over the weekend, Suffolk Downs parted ways with Caesars Entertainment after state regulators raised questions about Caesars’ links to organized crime. Celeste Meyers, of the group No Eastie Casino, says this development reinforces a point she and other casino opponents have been trying to make for months: Suffolk Downs can’t be trusted.
"It’s a huge indicator that Suffolk Downs is ill-equipped to select a suitable partner for themselves, much less the neighborhood of East Boston, the city of Boston, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," she said.
Pedro Morales works with the anti-casino group Friends of East Boston, which organized Sunday’s rally. Asked about Caesars’ sudden exit, he struck a similar note.
"We always said there was something sinister, something not right with this from the beginning," Morales said.
But in a video released after Caesars’ exit, Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle was upbeat.
"Recently, we changed the company that will manage gaming operations here if we’re successful in earning a license," Tuttle said in the video. "What hasn’t changed? Our plans to developing a world-class destination resort."
After Caesars’ departure, Boston Mayor Tom Menino — who backs a Suffolk Downs casino — suggested the vote might be delayed. This afternoon, though, Secretary of State Bill Galvin said it would proceed as scheduled. There is a caveat: Since the ballots describe Caesars as a partner on the Suffolk Downs project — whichever side loses might have grounds for a lawsuit.