The new casino law — signed by Governor Patrick on Tuesday— contains a key provision that will give the Boston City Council an important say in the siting of any future gambling complex within our city limits. The council can and should use this leverage wisely to play a larger role in the conversation about a proposed casino.
The council won’t get to take an up-or-down vote on a specific casino plan. But the body can vote to give the entire city a say through a referendum that is required to ratify any deal that the mayor’s administration inks with a casino developer.
Mayor Menino has made it clear that he doesn’t want the whole city to have a say in the matter. But Menino doesn’t get to make that call. State law is very clear in saying that there will be a referendum in any event. The city council gets to decide if a citywide vote should be held— or if the vote will just be held within a single ward that is closest to the proposed casino.
In taking a strong position against a citywide vote, Menino has shown his cards. But the council shouldn’t take anything off the table. If the casino lobby wants to come into Boston, they should be required to talk turkey with all of its elected city officials. And, in the end, that will make for a better deal for all of Boston’s neighborhoods.