Poll: Boston voters want citywide casino referendum

By 
Reporter Staff
Sep. 19, 2013

New poll results show 64 percent of likely Boston voters want a citywide referendum on whether to allow a casino at Suffolk Downs in East Boston, and voters deadlocked over allowing the city casino.

The Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll results were released Wednesday morning, just after Boston mayoral candidate and casino opponent Bill Walczak released a three-page memo quoting media reports and asserting that Caesars Entertainment, the Suffolk Downs casino developer, is “struggling under a heavy debt load” and must restructure its debt by 2015.

Walczak questioned the ability of Caesars to make good on the financial promises made to the city in a host agreement negotiated with outgoing Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

“There are no guarantees with this company and in this agreement,” Walczak said in a statement. “If Caesars is sold or split, who will Boston hold responsible for the promises outlined in the host community mitigation agreement?”

Like many other elected officials, City Councilor John Connolly, the leader in the Herald’s mayoral race poll released just ahead of Tuesday’s election, favors an East Boston-only vote on the proposed casino.

Connolly is a member of a city council committee scheduled to hold a public hearing Friday at City Hall on Suffolk Downs’ request for a referendum vote on Nov. 5 and a Mayor Menino order confirming an election prior to a suitability determination by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Supporters of an East Boston-only vote note the area’s geographical separation from other parts of the city and say its residents would disproportionately bear any impacts from a casino. The Herald poll showed only 30 percent of 600 likely Boston preliminary election voters favor the fate of the casino development being decided only by East Boston voters.