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August 28, 2013

Boston, Suffolk Downs unveil casino deal

BOSTON (AP) — A plan to develop a $1 billion resort casino at Suffolk Downs is moving forward with the unveiling of a long-awaited host community agreement between the thoroughbred race track and Boston officials.

The deal, announced by Mayor Thomas Menino, calls for $33.4 million in upfront payments and estimates $52 million in annual revenue going to the city if the casino is built. The agreement also promises at least 2,500 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs.

Revere’s mayor did not participate as had been expected.

The developers would spend $45 million on transportation improvements in the heavily congested East Boston neighborhood, including a traffic flyover on Route 1A and upgrades to nearby MBTA stations.

The agreement “has more revenue, more guaranteed jobs and more protection than any other agreement in the region,” Menino said.

The state’s 2011 gambling law requires casino developers to negotiate host community agreements, which must then be approved by local voters before developers can seek licenses from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The law allows for three regional resort casinos, including one in eastern Massachusetts.

Suffolk Downs has partnered with Caesars Entertainment on a proposal that calls for a casino, two hotels, restaurants and horse racing on the 163-acre site near Logan International Airport. The plan is one of three that have been offered for the eastern region. The track straddles the East Boston neighborhood and Revere.

The Boston City Council must now schedule a referendum and decide whether the vote should be limited to residents of the East Boston neighborhood or be decided by the city as a whole.

Everett voters have approved a proposal from Las Vegas casino operator Steve Wynn.

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