REVERE — On the eve of a crucial vote by the state’s gambling commission on a revised casino plan for Suffolk Downs, the Revere City Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve new zoning that would allow buildings as tall as 18 stories to be built on the 51-acre parcel where Mohegan Sun proposes a $1 billion resort.
Casino gambling, including slot machines and table games, is already allowed by current zoning. But the changes would allow for taller buildings and greater density for development on the Revere portion of the 161-acre race track that straddles the East Boston line.
“These zoning changes are minimally obtrusive,” said Councilor Stephen Reardon, chairman of the zoning subcommittee, which recommended the change to the full council.
“We already allow gaming here. All we’re doing is tailoring [zoning] to the specifics” of the proposed casino, he said.
The council’s vote came just hours before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is set to decide if a Nov. 5 referendum in Revere to allow a casino at Suffolk Downs is valid.
Revere voters overwhelmingly approved the referendum for a casino to be built on the East Boston side of Suffolk Downs. But East Boston voters soundly rejected the question.
Suffolk Downs has since teamed up with Mohegan Sun of Connecticut to propose a new project that would lie entirely on the Revere side of its property.
Preliminary plans call for a sweeping, curved casino overlooking the oval race track, along with two hotels, trendy shops, and restaurants.
Casino opponents have argued that the Revere vote is not valid because the revised project is different from the one presented to voters. The gambling commission must decide if the revised plan can go forward without a new vote.
Supporters of a casino packed Revere City Hall for a second straight week Monday, reiterating their support for the project and the city’s vote.
“Democracy doesn’t end at the border with East Boston,” Louis Ciarlone, president of IBEW Local 103, a union representing workers at the race track, told councilors. “Our votes count, too.”
His remarks drew loud applause, especially from workers and their supporters.
“I hope the council votes to support [the zoning],” Patty Reardon, a resident and mother of a horse trainer, told councilors. “Let’s go all the way with this.”
Approval of the zoning change came one week after the council also voted unanimously to approve a resolution supporting the revised plan for Suffolk Downs.