Casino at Suffolk would mean jobs for Chelsea residents

Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs, said a casino project at the East Boston venue would mean hundreds of jobs for residents of Chelsea and area communities.

Tuttle made his remarks at the June Breakfast hosted by the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce Wednesday at the Wyndham Chelsea Hotel. City Manager Jay Ash, City Council President Leo Robinson, State Rep. Kathi Ann Reinstein, and State Sen. Sal DiDomenico joined business leaders and Chamber members at the breakfast.

“Suffolk Downs has employed hundreds and hundreds of people and families for years from East Boston, Chelsea, Winthrop, Revere, Saugus, and Lynn,” said Tuttle, COO of Suffolk since August, 2007. “I anticipate if we are successful in gaming [casino] development that our work force will largely come from the same communities.”

Tuttle then answered the question on everybody’s mind: How many new casino jobs will there be?

“Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun (Casinos) combined to employ over 19,000 people – 19,000 jobs created by those two facilities,” said Tuttle. “We want to generate similar job creation and similar spending locally per year in goods and services with vendors and businesses in our surrounding communities.”

Tuttle said that if Suffolk Downs does receive a gaming license to construct and operate a casino, “Right away we would create 1,500 construction jobs. Those would last for a period of two to three years, maybe four to five years depending upon the ultimate scope of the project.”

He added that the Suffolk casino would also create 250 new permanent jobs. “These are union jobs with good wages and good benefits and those would be ongoing and added to the over 1,000 jobs that we already generate at Suffolk Downs during he height of our racing season. We have over 3,000 people working at the facility in a short period of time.”

Tuttle said the Commonwealth of Massachusetts would receive taxes in the form of 25 percent of gross gaming revenue and Chelsea would get a share of those funds through the local aid formula.

“In addition we would be discussing with Jay Ash how we would take care of potential traffic and public safety mitigation issues [in Chelsea] so we would spending directly with the municipality to make sure that we covered any impact that our facility might have on your city,” said Tuttle.

Tuttle told the gathering that the Suffolk Downs ownership includes Joe O’Donnell, a local businessman and philanthropist who grew up in Everett, and Richard Fields, a horse racing enthusiast and casino developer from New York. Fields was the co-developer of the Seminole Hard Rock Casino resorts in Hollywood and Tampa, Florida.

Tuttle said that Suffolk hopes to hold a job fair and a vendor fair at the track in the fall for area residents and businesses.

Ash drew praise from Tuttle for his leadership role statewide in support of the casino project.

“Jay Ash has been a champion of our cause for the last three years as Suffolk Downs has been a part of a coalition of people around the state trying to promote expanding and the economic benefits of expanded gambling,” said Tuttle. “Jay has been one of the lead spokespeople for an organization called the Coalition for Jobs and Growth. He has spoken at forums not only around Chelsea, but also in other parts of the state. Jay recognized early on that there would be significant economic benefits for Chelsea if we’re able to be successful with this development at Suffolk Downs.”

Allan Alpert, the city’s director of emergency management and a member of the Chamber board, did his usual standout job as master of ceremonies.

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