Open Letter to Massachusetts Gaming Commission

 

09 December 2013


To the Members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission,

 

We are writing on behalf of the Friends of East Boston, a network of more than thirty local ministers who believe our community deserves better than a casino, and on behalf of other individuals and communities of faith in Revere who share that same vision.

 

On November 5 the people of East Boston exercised their rights as citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by voting on a host community agreement between the city of Boston and Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, LLC, which is the owner of 161 acre parcel located in both East Boston and Revere.  The East Boston (Ward 1) ballot question said that “A NO VOTE from a majority of votes cast in this Ward referendum would prevent Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, LLC, from proceeding with its application to obtain a gaming license from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to operate a gaming establishment at the specified location.”  That specified location includes the property in both East Boston and Revere.   On November 5, a total of 7,637 East Boston citizens voted, and of those, 4,283 voted “no” to that ballot question.

 

Senator Anthony Petruccelli, a casino proponent who represents East Boston and Revere and who helped write the law regarding the host community agreement, clearly agrees with this assessment.  He recently stated in a letter to the MGC that: “Only favorable referendum results in both host communities allow the applicant to proceed to Phase 2.  That did not happen with Sterling Suffolk's Project.  Because one host community voted in the negative, the Project proposed for Suffolk Downs is dead.”

 

Elected officials from Revere and officials from Suffolk Racecourse, LLC are attempting to deny the clear intent of the Boston Host Community Agreement and the East Boston ballot question and ultimately subvert the very democratic process that has been foundational for our Commonwealth.  We call upon the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to recognize the truth that this proposal was never about a casino in East Boston or Revere.  To accept the premise that this process includes an option of a casino in Revere only is to pretend that the Boston Host Community Agreement did not exist, that the East Boston ballot did not exist, and ultimately that the East Boston vote did not exist.  We call upon the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to do the right thing and deny the post November 5 proposal for a casino on the Revere only property of Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, LLC. 

 

Sincerely,

 

Rev. Dr. David Searles, Central Assembly of God, East Boston

Rabbi Joseph Berman, Temple B'nai Israel, Revere

Father Wayne Belschner, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, East Boston

Rev. Miguel Bravo, Iglesia Arca de Salvacion, East Boston

Rev. Alicia Climaco, Iglesia Profetica Internacional Ciudad de Sion, East Boston

Rev. Dr.  James Collins, Eagle Heights Church, Revere

Fr. Thomas Domurat, Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, East Boston

Deacon Frank McHugh, Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, East Boston

Deacon Victor Rivero, Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, East Boston

Rev. Nick Granitsas, First Congregational Church, Revere

Rev. Tim Bogertman, First Congregational Church, Revere

Pastors Ivan and Raquel Henriquez, Ministerios el Mover del Espíritu, Revere

Fr. George Szal, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Revere

Rev. Dr. David Martinez, Tabernaculo Evangelico de las Asambleas de Dios, Revere

Fr. Brian Morelli, Anglican Priest, Anglican Diocese in New England, East Boston

Rev. Don Nanstad, Our Savior's Lutheran Church, East Boston

Rev. Jaime Perdomo, Pastor of Iglesia Cristiana Nueva Vida, East Boston

Rev. Jeremias Rosa, from Iglesia Apostoles y Profetas, East Boston

Pastor Kevin Scott, Church at the Well, East Boston

Sherif Shabaka, Leader of Egyptian Association, East Boston

Trent Sheppard, Collegiate Chaplain, Alpha New England, East Boston

Rev. Matt Whelan, Freedom Mission, East Boston

Rev. Claudio Yeme, Iglesia Palabras de Vida, East Boston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Friends,

 

In all honesty, it’s hard for ministers to agree on anything.

 

But when it comes to the potential of a casino in East Boston, we’re in complete agreement:

 

God has something better for this town than a casino.

 

Multiple independent studies have demonstrated that casinos increase crime, addiction, traffic, pollution, bankruptcy, insurance rates and numerous other harms. That’s why this casino proposal is accompanied by a “mitigation package” – which is an attempt to reduce the severity of the problems that a casino will create.

 

And, yes, we know that Suffolk Downs has promised 4,000 casino jobs: they’ve plastered that promise – along with the logo of Caesar’s Entertainment – all over our streets.

 

Of course, our community needs jobs. But the problem with Suffolk Downs’ job plan is that their casino proposal includes at least 4,000 slot machines, and research has shown that every new slot machine in a community kills 1-2 jobs per year.* That’s because people spend their “pocket change” and “fun money” on slot machines instead of spending that money on local businesses.

 

What that practically means is this: A casino at Suffolk Downs will most likely take more jobs from East Boston than it will ever provide, and that’s just not a gamble this town needs to take.

 

When you’re days away from voting on whether or not to allow a proposed casino to forever reshape your community and its identity, and it is suddenly revealed that the chosen and highly- touted operating partner, Caesars Entertainment, is being investigated for alleged business ties to organized crime, that’s a very, very big deal.

 

Suffolk Downs’ unfortunate choice of Caesars Entertainment, which is now billions of dollars in debt, raises profound doubt as to whether or not Suffolk Downs can be trusted to act in the best interests of our community. Does Suffolk Downs deserve another chance to play with the future of our community? Plainly, it does not. The stakes are just too high.

 

For all of these reasons and more, we urge Suffolk Downs to withdraw its application for a casino in East Boston.

 

Further, we also encourage our elected officials to withdraw their support for this application. It’s the right thing to do, and there’s still time to do it.

 

Regarding what comes next, with your support – and with genuine community involvement – we’ll help shape a significant and representative conversation in this diverse community about how we can honor the local history of Suffolk Downs, attract business investors who are on the cutting edge of urban development and new technology, create thousands of sustainable jobs on our stunning waterfront, preserve the rich immigrant diversity for which East Boston is known, and together shape a bright future for our historic American town.

 

What do you say?

 

For the Friends of East Boston,

 

Trent Sheppard, Collegiate Chaplain, Alpha New England, East Boston resident

Rev. Don Nanstad, Pastor of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, East Boston

Fr. Tomas Domurat, Pastor of Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, East Boston

Deacon Frank McHugh, Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, East Boston

Deacon Pedro LaTorre, Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, East Boston

Deacon Victor Rivero, Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, East Boston

Fr. Guido Marrosu, Pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, East Boston

Fr. Brian Morelli, Anglican Priest, Anglican Diocese in New England, East Boston resident

Rev. Alicia Climaco, Iglesia Profetica Internacional Ciudad de Sion, East Boston

Rev. Kris Perkins, Associate Minister of Park Street Church, East Boston resident

Rev. Jaime Perdomo, Pastor of Iglesia Cristiana Nueva Vida, East Boston

Rev. David Searles, Pastor of Central Assembly of God, East Boston

Pastor Kevin Scott, Church at the Well, East Boston

Associate Pastor Matt Love, Church at the Well, East Boston

Rev. Claudio Yeme, Pastor of Iglesia Palabras de Vida, East Boston

Pastor Matt Whelan, Freedom Mission, East Boston Resident

The Most Venerable Thich Tu Hue, East Boston Buddhist Temple

Dharma Teacher Thich Tri Vien, East Boston Buddhist Temple

Rev. Steven Chin, Senior Pastor, Boston Chinese Evangelical Church

Rev. Elisa Soto, Pastor of Iglesia Ebenezer, East Boston

Sherif Shabaka, Leader of Egyptian Association, East Boston

Pedro Morales, Lead Organizer, Friends of East Boston

 



* J. Kindt, Senior Ed. (Ed.). 2009. Gambling with Crime, Destabilized Economies, and Financial Systems, 1-1,286. Buffalo, New York: William S. Hein and Company, Inc.



Open Letter to Suffolk Downs, Our Elected Officials & the People of East Boston

October 30, 2013

© 2014 by Friends of East Boston