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Revere completes casino deal with Suffolk Downs

REVERE — Following a flurry of last-minute negotiations, Mayor Dan Rizzo signed a casino deal with Suffolk Downs Wednesday, clearing the last hurdle before the track’s casino plans can move forward to public referendums in Revere and in East Boston.

The city of Revere is expected to post the agreement on the Internet Thursday, but John V. Festa, the city’s director of economic development, explained in an interview beforehand that Revere would receive a percentage of the facility’s gambling revenue, if Suffolk Downs wins the sole Greater Boston resort casino license.

The potential payments change year to year under a complicated formula that the city estimates would send about $15 million per year to Revere, Festa said. If the resort casino does not hit expected revenue targets, he said, the city would receive guaranteed minimum payments that range from about $4.25 million to $9 million per year.


Along with the annual payments, Suffolk Downs has also committed to spending $7.5 million annually at Revere businesses, according to a statement from the track. At a brief ceremony Wednesday afternoon at City Hall, Rizzo called the agreement “an extraordinary deal.”

Suffolk Downs principal owner Richard Fields said at the event that track officials are “very, very excited to be part of the transformation of this city and the region.”

The thoroughbred track and its partner, Caesars Entertainment, have proposed a $1 billion resort casino on the property, which straddles the Boston-Revere city line. Just 30 percent of the land is in Revere, and casino construction is planned for the Boston side of the city line. Rizzo said the city did well in negotiations, despite having less than one-third of the development land and none of the proposed buildings within its borders.

After many months of negotiations, Suffolk Downs signed an agreement Tuesday with Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston. That deal requires the track to give the city at least $32 million annually and the East Boston neighborhood an upfront payment of $33.4 million. It includes provisions that will increase the annual payment to Boston if the casino is highly profitable. Under those provisions, Boston estimates it would receive more than $50 million annually.


In the agreements with both Revere and Boston, Suffolk Downs has also committed to creating 2,500 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs, as well as spending $45 million for transportation and road improvements.

No casino proposal can win a state license unless it wins the endorsement of the host community — or in Suffolk Downs’s case, both communities — at the ballot box.

Dates have not yet been set for the local votes, though the track’s proponents have privately suggested Oct. 29. Officials from both Revere and Boston would prefer to have the votes on the same day. State law requires at least a 60-day campaign before any casino votes.

The track is competing for the casino resort license with Wynn Resorts, which is planning to build in Everett, and a Foxwoods project in Milford. The state gambling commission is expected to choose the winning proposal in early 2014. The Greater Boston casino license is expected to be the most lucrative in the state.

Of 11 original casino applicants in the state, nearly all have reached deals with their host community. Mohegan Sun’s deal with Palmer is expected on Thursday.


Mark Arsenault can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @bostonglobemark.