Voters in East Boston didn’t just reject a Suffolk Downs casino Tuesday. They crushed the proposal, 56 percent to 44 percent—and while Suffolk Downs may still try to build a casino in Revere, casino opponents think their victory last night was decisive.
“I didn’t want to put up with all the traffic, construction, and just everything that went along with it,” Mario Olivieri said Wednesday morning in East Boston’s Maverick Square.
Like Olivieri, Paul Walsh voted “No” on the Suffolk Downs plan.
“It’ll draw riffraff, as far as I’m concerned,” Walsh explained. “There’s enough riffraff going around.”
Jesse Purvis organized his neighborhood for the group No Eastie Casino. He believes the abrupt withdrawal of Caesars Entertainment from the Suffolk Downs proposal was a major reason for his side’s lopsided win.
“We had the right ideas, and the right information out there, and the right people—I think we were still going to win it anyway,” Purvis said. “But I do think that was the point at which the momentum started to shift in our favor.”
Because Suffolk Downs straddles the East Boston-Revere Line, the casino plan isn’t entirely dead yet. Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle said a casino could be built entirely in Revere, which approved the proposal yesterday.
For casino supporters like Jen Wright, that’s cause for some lingering hope.
“I voted yes, because I think it would give us jobs,” Wright told WGBH.
Wright also worries that Suffolk Downs’ days as a horse-racing track are numbered—and that unless Suffolk Downs moves into the casino business, employees will take a hit.
“My mother’s worked there for 36 years,” Wright said. “So she might be out of a job now.”
Still, for many opponents, the idea of a last-minute Suffolk Downs casino comeback seems far fetched.
“I think it’s a Hail Mary,” says Purvis, the No Eastie Casino organizer. “I think they’re reaching for straws. The majority of their hope is gone. In their situation, I’d do the same thing, but I think they have no chance."
Mario Olivieri agrees.
“They have no shot at getting that,” he said of a Revere-only plan. “I don’t think they have the land. It’ll go on for years; it’ll be in and out of court.”
So, Olivieri was asked, does that mean he’s confident last night’s “No” vote was decisive?
“In my lifetime,” he said with a chuckle, “yes.”
Editor's note: Chip Tuttle, the chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs, released a statement to the media.
“We respect the vote of our neighbors in East Boston. We will also work to honor the clear affirmation of our vision for development that creates economic benefits by the voters of Revere and our duty to our family of workers and horsemen to explore options in Revere.”