REVERE, Mass. — Voters in this working-class city on Boston's North Shore — with its long history of gambling on greyhounds and horse racing — will decide Tuesday whether to allow Mohegan Sun to build a $1.3 billion casino at the Suffolk Downs race track.
This is the second time in four months Revere voters will have a say on the prospects for a resort casino in their town. In November, they approved a similar proposal that would have included property partly in East Boston, but East Boston voters rejected it. Revere's former partner, Caesars Entertainment Corp., withdrew amid a background check by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
This is the second election in four months for Mohegan Sun, too. On Nov. 5, voters in Palmer, Mass., rejected the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority's plan for a casino in that town.
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After their separate rejections, Revere and Mohegan Sun paired up and scrambled to draft a new plan.
"We had a large group of people basically just working their butts off nonstop from the time we announced our agreement with Suffolk Downs until the time we sent that application in on Dec. 31, and it was an effort that goes beyond comprehension," said Mitchell Grossinger Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority.
"It wasn't like we could just pick up the Palmer plan and move it here. That was on a mountain, this is built by the beach," Etess said.
If approved by voters, the plan will square off against a rival proposal by Las Vegas casino titan Steve Wynn to construct a $1.3 billion casino in neighboring Everett. The state gaming commission will decide this spring which plan is better for the Boston region — only one will get the sole license to operate a resort casino.
When Mohegan Sun lost the Palmer vote, it left MGM Resorts International as the unrivaled bid for the sole license to operate a casino in Western Massachusetts.
"We wanted to be competing with MGM right now, not Wynn. We put every single thing we had into that," Etess said. "Once that was no longer an option, we lost the referendum, we were fortunate through an incredible series of events in this position to be competing for the Eastern license."
"Is it a really good opportunity? Yes. Will this place drive more revenues than the location in Palmer? Yes. … But it wasn't like it's what we had planned," he said.
Mohegan Sun Massachusetts plans to build on 42 acres now occupied by horse stables at one end of the racetrack. The tribe promises to deliver 2,500 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs.
Revere's annual budget is $154 million, and the casino project would provide $33 million in four installments as an initial payment plus annual payments of $25 million during years one, two and three; $28 million in years four, five and six; and $30 million in the seventh year and thereafter, according to the host community agreement going to a vote Tuesday.
Mohegan Sun has a lot of supporters.
Revere Mayor Daniel Rizzo praises the plan. So do mayors in some other nearby towns: Lynn, Salem and Chelsea. The casino has backing from chambers of commerce in Revere, Lynn, Chelsea and Salem. It's also supported by a local visitors bureau and the North Shore Alliance for Economic Development.
"I think that the plan is beautiful," said Kerri Abrams-Rampelberg, owner of Kinship Floral and vice president of the Revere Chamber of Commerce.
"I think that it's inclusive of the community around it," she said. "I think it's inclusive of what Revere has to offer landmark-wise, and that is, we're America's first public beach. … So, I think they're really trying to bring all that back."
Named for Paul Revere, this city of more than 53,000 residents is north of East Boston and Chelsea, east of Everett. The median household income for Revere is $49,933 compared with $66,658 in all of Massachusetts, according to 2012 estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The Rev. George Szal of the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church describes Revere as a working-class city with large groups of Italian Americans, Irish Americans and Latinos. The city is 62 percent white, 24 percent Latino, 4.9 percent black, and 5.6 percent Asian.
"We've always been an immigrant community," said the Rev. Tim Bogertman, pastor of the First Congregationalist Church of Revere. He noted that Revere also has large populations of Arabs and Cambodians, in addition to Latinos.
In a neighborhood near the beach, a shop called Casablanca sells pizza, shawarma, kabobs and subs. On the same street, Assalam Market sells international groceries in Spanish and Arabic.