By Seth Daniel
The Wynn Boston Harbor casino said this week that it had gotten involved in the Revere Special Election last Tuesday, Oct. 18, that had major implications for a developer that is pushing the statewide Question 1 ballot initiative in November.
Wynn also said it would be involved in the statewide fight in November as well, putting an undetermined amount of resources into the fight against the question that would potentially allow an additional slot parlor.
Currently, a developer living in Revere – but with major ties to Thailand – has an option on a trailer park next to Suffolk Downs and wishes to develop that into a hotel and slot parlor. Question 1 asks for voters to determine whether that developer can ask the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) for a second slots license. The one slots license approved under the expanded gaming act of 2011 was awarded to Plainville and is now operational.
The vote in Revere on Tuesday, Oct. 18, asked Revere voters to approve the designation of the trailer park as an official gaming site. Revere voters rejected the plan by a 2-to-1 margin.
“We assessed the situation and were thinking about getting involved for a while,” said Wynn Boston Harbor President Bob DeSalvio. “What really turned things around for us was the crowd of people who came out to support ‘No on 1’ around the City and the state. Mayor Brian Arrigo came out against it, most of the Revere City Council came out against it, Governor Baker and Speaker DeLeo came out against it and the people of Revere that we spoke to were dead-set against it. There were so many mysteries around the Revere proposal that we felt we needed to help get the facts out. When this came up in the past, people knew what they were voting for. You knew you were voting for Wynn or MGM or the Suffolk Downs plans. You knew the proposals. This is full of secrets and questions that have gone unanswered. We felt the need to help get the truth out.”
According to campaign finance reports filed this week, Wynn formed a committee named Revere Can Do Better. Wynn Resorts of Las Vegas contributed $39,000 to that Committee.
Wynn spent $23,000 with Kimball Political Consulting of Springfield for databases, Voter ID, and live and automated get out the vote calls.
Other expenditures included $3,803 to The Saint Consulting Group of Hingham, $7,500 to Saint Digital of Hingham for digital media, and $3,521 to Cambridge Offset Printing.
All expenditures were made between Oct. 12 and Oct. 20.
DeSalvio said there were no secrets to the funding activities in the Revere Special Election and that Wynn has said previously it opposes Question 1. He said the recent effort and future efforts against the statewide question would be open and up front, contrary to what he said is going on with the Thailand developer supporting Question 1.
“We are absolutely supporting the ‘No on Question One’ effort statewide and want to be very open and upfront about where our money is coming from,” DeSalvio said. “It’s coming from Wynn. That’s more than we can say about the investors from Thailand who are very secretive about who is funding their $10 million campaign. We think that speaks volumes about where their interests really are. Whatever our contribution, we won’t divulge the amount until after the election because it would give the opposition an edge. They’d very much like to know how much we are spending.”
The ‘Yes on 1’ campaign said last Friday that the Horse Racing Jobs and Education Committee in Revere has filed a request with the Office of Campaign and Public Finance (OCPF) to investigate four Committees that participated in the Oct. 18 Special Election. One of those committees was the Wynn ‘Revere Can Do Better’ committee.
“The Horse Racing Jobs and Education Committee has filed a request to investigate the (four) committees for possible violations of Massachusetts code,” read a release. “The Committee is also concerned that public funds may have been expended by the (Revere) Mayor and/or members of his administration in an effort to further mislead the citizens of Revere regarding the 400-room hotel and limited electronic gaming complex that has been proposed in Revere.”
The release read that the robo-call paid for by Wynn featured Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo asking voters to defeat the plan and called ‘Yes on 1’ a “fly-by-night” proposal. Arrigo said when he made the robo-call, according to the release, he didn’t know who was funding it.
To that end, the Committee has made a request for all communications, electronic or otherwise, within the Office of the Mayor of Revere, or to or from the Office of the Mayor of Revere, regarding the Special Election held on Oct. 18 and other such search items.
DeSalvio said Wynn Boston Harbor is against the statewide question because he believes it won’t be good for the fledgling gaming industry that is just now taking shape in the state.
“It makes no sense to grant an additional slot license when the two major licensed casinos aren’t even open yet,” he said. “Let’s wait and see how the two licensed casinos do before adding more. The legislation was very thoughtfully written to protect against oversaturating the market. We need to respect the law and assess the market before considering any type of expansion.”
He added that approving Question 1 could open up communities to slot parlors, even when they have rejected gaming in the past – provided they have the facility next to a horse track.
“It doesn’t matter how a community voted for gaming in the past,” he said. “A yes vote would allow anyone to do this anywhere in the state.”