I’ve been busy on a few projects lately, and the software driving this site also received an upgrade in the past couple of weeks so we were working on that. Hopefully most of the bugs that came out of that upgrade have been fixed. I am also working on some data analysis pieces for upcoming entries here, so look for those in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, there has certainly has been quite a bit of gaming activity around North America recently, including news from my home state of Massachusetts where the casino licensing process is underway in earnest.

Here, the state came to a new agreement with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe for a casino in Taunton, but there is considerable concern about just how long it would take before it could be operational. Given land trust issues, it could be years, and that has the Massachusetts Gaming Commission considering opening up the southeast region to commercial bidding.

Casino legislation is still being discussed in neighboring New Hampshire, although there is quite a bit of disagreement about whether to legalize one, two or even more casinos. Further north, Churchill Downs has entered into an agreement to purchase Maine’s Oxford Casino, which opened last summer. Penn National Gaming operates the state’s only other casino, Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway at Bangor. With fewer slots but more gaming tables, Oxford generates more revenue than does the racetrack-based casino.

Elsewhere, proposals to relocate several racetracks in Ohio have troubled members of the Ohio State Racing Commission. They think the plans put too much emphasis on VLT operations to the detriment of horse racing – by not providing enough seats for track patrons and limiting facilities for horsemen. Clearly the operators don’t think much of the future of horse racing in the state with their emphasis on gaming in their construction plans. Given that many racetracks these days draw only hundreds, not thousands, of patrons, this feeling is not surprising.

Still, in Kansas there are renewed efforts to revive the state’s defunct pari-mutuel industry by changing the legislation that first authorized casinos and slots at tracks in 2007. The terms were not considered workable by the racetracks and there has been no live racing at commercial tracks since 2008. Kansas has three operating casinos; a fourth license has not drawn much interest given the intense competition from tribal casinos in Oklahoma.

I’ll close this edition on an entertaining note. On Saturday, the Texas Lottery brought together hundreds of Star Trek fans dressed as their favorite characters to celebrate the launch of its new Star Trek scratch ticket. Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, made a guest appearance at the event in Dallas. Sometimes, you just need to have a little fun.