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Suffolk Downs Casino Proposal Splits East Boston 02:43

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At a corner storefront in East Boston Sunday morning, Suffolk Downs chief operating officer Chip Tuttle met more than 50 pro-casino workers — paid and volunteer — as they got ready to hit the streets and knock on doors.

"We're in the home stretch," he told them.

Suffolk Downs is steaming ahead with its $1 billion casino proposal even though it dropped its original partner, Caesars Entertainment, after state gambling regulators raised concerns about an investor in a Caesars hotel deal.

With the campaign for local approval of the plan in its final days, recent polls show it could be a tight contest. Because the track straddles East Boston and Revere, voters from both communities will weigh in on Tuesday.

As she headed into a nearby Dunkin' Donuts, Revere telemarketer Haley Clifford said she was concerned that a casino might be accompanied by higher rates of crime and drug use. But, she said, those worries are outweighed by potential benefits.

"It will make just like the property at least around the casino... it will make nice houses and everything," she said. "I like it because of the jobs, the opportunities. Yes on the casino."

Over near East Boston's Maverick Square, a couple dozen volunteers for the homegrown casino opposition group No Eastie Casino marched through the streets. Reports filed last week show the group has raised around $35,000 — a number that's dwarfed by the $2 million raised by pro-casino forces.

Lifelong east Boston resident Ernani DeAraujo is undaunted. He says he's worried a casino would hurt small businesses in the local Latino community.

"I think our neighborhood is safer today than it's been in my entire lifetime of 32 years," he said. "And we don't want to go backward. We don't want the crime, we don't want the needless traffic that comes from these types of establishments, so I'm voting no."

Voters in East Boston and Revere aren't the only ones considering the future of gambling in their communities on Tuesday. In western Massachusetts, Palmer voters will decide whether to support a casino proposed by the owners of Connecticut's Mohegan Sun.

This program aired on November 4, 2013.

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