New Bedford residents are betting on a waterfront casino to bring a surge into the city.

That's the result of Tuesday's referendum, where voters approved the $650 million proposal by nearly a 3-1 margin.

A total of 8,355 voters approved the proposal while 3,040 voted against it.

That margin of victory, combined with a voter turnout of over 21%, has Mayor Jon Mitchell feeling satisfied.

"Both the turnout and the margin of victory exceeded our expectations and, to my mind, it validated for us that we struck a good deal on behalf of the city," Mitchell said.

Mitchell cites the city's Host Community Agreement and informational public forums as keys to this victory.

Councilor at Large David Alves has been working to being a casino to the city for over seven years and he's happy to finally see it one step closer to becoming a reality.

"I think the vote tonight was a real vote for the people of New Bedford. I think there's a lot of people who see the benefits of the casino. That's the real win for the city of New Bedford; there's no gambling on that," said Alves outside the Election Commission's office.

The city will now continue to work with developer KG Urban Enterprises as they continue their bid for the final gaming license in the state.

KG managing director Andrew Stern thanked all the voters that supported his team and their proposal, and believes Tuesday's results will not go unnoticed by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

"It was a good solid turnout with overwhelming support. How can that not make an impression on the five commissioners?" asked Stern outside his campaign's victory party downtown.

The city faces only Brockton's proposal for the Region C Gaming License, which could be awarded by the end of the year.

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