There is something absurd about holding a vote on whether a legal business can open its doors in Boston.
But that is what the law permitting casinos in Massachusetts demands. The only question is whether the vote will be held in just the casino’s neighborhood, or citywide. When a Suffolk Downs casino in Eastie is officially proposed, JP and the entire city should have a vote.
City residents already have appropriate input on businesses through zoning, licensing and design review processes. Requiring a vote is mostly a way for legislators to cover their bets by throwing the ultimate decision into their constituents’ hands. It is also an obvious invitation for casino owners to buy the votes by cutting neighborhood deals.
Eastie desperately needs the economic opportunity a casino offers. But all of Boston will feel the benefits and burdens of such a business. That large-scale impact is, after all, why casinos were legalized in the first place.
The Boston City Council will decide whether the vote should be local-only or citywide. That is to say, the people we voted for to weigh in on city issues will decide whether we can vote to weigh in on a city issue. That question pretty much answers itself.