Winthrop Speaks out on Casino: Mohegan Sun Makes resort/casino Presentation at Council Meeting

Thursday, April 3, 2014
By Cary Shuman
Town Council President Peter Gill and Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle confer at the Town Council meeting Tuesday night.

Town Council President Peter Gill and Suffolk Downs COO Chip
Tuttle confer at the Town Council meeting Tuesday night.

It was a world-class presentation by a world-class leader in the gaming industry.

Appearing at a Town Council meeting Tuesday night, Gary Luderitz, vice-president of operations and development for Mohegan Sun, delivered a presentation about Mohegan Sun’s proposed $1 billion resort/casino to be located at Suffolk Downs.

The accompanying video highlighted some of the many benefits of the project including the 4,000 permanent jobs that will be created at the resort/casino and that Mohegan Sun would purchase $50 million in goods and services from area businesses each year.

But while Revere residents have approved the project by a wide margin, it was clear that many in Winthrop – at least the majority of the speakers at the forum – have concerns about the impact the casino will have on daily life in Winthrop.

Council President Peter Gill moderated the meeting and presented opening remarks.

“The purpose of tonight’s meeting is for us, the residents of Winthrop, to hear the Mohegan Sun presentation, and for Mohegan to hear our concerns of the impacts that the proposed project will have on us, the residents of Winthrop and our community,” said Gill.

Gill said that as a prerequisite to the Gaming Commission granting of a license, the applicant and the town of Winthrop must attempt to negotiate a mitigation package. Winthrop has submitted a request for a payment of $5 million and negotiations have not been completed.

“If Mohegan Sun is granted a license, we must make sure we are justly compensated,” said Gill.

While residents, including Dr. Astrid Weins and Heather Engman, again articulated their views that they do not want a casino located next door in Revere, others addressed the topic of traffic and public safety issues in the event a casino is built at Suffolk Downs.

Police Chief Terence Delehanty cited crime statistics from communities that are situated near casinos, saying that there have been increased public safety issues in cities and towns that border casinos. Delehanty’s thorough research on the subject and pointed remarks about the traffic and public safety impact that the Mohegan Sun casino would have on Winthrop drew much support from the audience.

Jeffrey Turco, former president of the Town Council, said he supported the resort/casino proposal. He asked that the Council return to the negotiating table with Mohegan Sun for the mitigation package for Winthrop.

“The Council is charged under the law with going to the table with Mohegan Sun and negotiating the best agreement it can get for Winthrop if a casino comes to Suffolk Downs,” said Turco. “Suffolk Downs and Mohegan Sun have to open up their eyes that there are impacts to this community. You need to get back to the table. But you as a council need to stop the public nonsense of writing letters to the Gaming Commission personally. I’ve never seen a situation where people that are charged by law and are sitting across from the table go out and repeatedly knife each other publicly and than turn and say, ‘They’re not treating me nice.’ I urge the Council to get back to the table and negotiate a package that benefits Winthrop.”

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