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  Tuesday, October 21, 2014
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October 24, 2013
No Casino? So, What Now?
By Rick Winterson

We still aren’t sure why Caesars Entertainment was disqualified.  It seemed to happen very suddenly.  Some of Boston’s media alluded to Caesars’ having suspicious partners elsewhere in the world.  Business ties to gangster elements in Russia were mentioned.  The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is said to have discovered all of this, which leads us to ask why it didn’t come to the surface long before this month.

It’s a lesson that we hope Boston has learned.  Gambling is an attractive pursuit for the unsavory elements in society.  We believe that no one can guarantee these elements won’t show up in the long term future, if we allow a casino to come into Boston right now. 

However, South Boston Online’s objections to a casino in East Boston were not based upon our opinion of Caesars Entertainment.  We don’t have any such opinion.  Our objections included the $30 to $52 million “payment” to the City, which is “peanuts”, as we put it.  It’s less than 2% of our annual budget; it won’t even come close to covering the costs of busing our kids to school or paying for the recent arbitration award.  Why sell the City’s soul for 2% of its budget?

Furthermore, casinos don’t belong in Boston.  We have great museums, fine entertainment, world class colleges, excellent hospitals, topnotch institutions, entrepreneurial businesses, superb culture, a beautiful city, a wonderful location, a high quality of life, and an immense history.  We are a city on our own terms.

Casinos need not apply!

So, what now?

Well, you might have heard that Massport is seeking authorization worth $300 million ($300,000,000) for dredging Boston Harbor.  This will allow our port to accommodate at least some of the larger ocean-going freighters that will begin coming through the expanded Panama Canal in 2015.  We don’t know what that $300 million will cover – it actually sounds low to South Boston Online.  But certainly, some of it will be spent in East Boston.  We hope that some of it comes here to South Boston as well, to upgrade the Conley Terminal and the truck roads in and out of it. 

For your information, large ocean-going container ships are about the greenest, most fuel efficient way to move large tonnage goods over long distances.  In addition, consider what happens right now with Pacific Ocean freight from Japan, China, and other points along the Pacific Rim to America.   Over-sized container ships get off-loaded in Long Beach, California, and then the goods are trucked across the nation.  The enlarged Panama Canal will eliminate that fuel burning, cross-country transit completely.

So let’s get behind the effort to upgrade Boston Harbor, and its port facilities.  It won’t be easy, because Boston is a congested city, but it can be done.  We recommend that our “friendly competitors” in Eastie do the same on their end, after voting down a casino at Suffolk Downs.

And there’ll be a further benefit to a bigger and thriving Port of Boston:  Jobs.   Lots of them.   Jobs that are permanent and well-paid – more than just 4,000 jobs.  So let’s forget any casino proposals whatever, and go for a world-class port facility instead. 



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