Yesterday, voters in Raynham, Mass., gave their hearty endorsement to the slot parlor proposed for Raynham Park, the former Greyhound track currently operating as a simulcast facility. Fully 86 percent of votes were cast in favor of the proposal, with job creation the main selling point. The proposal calls for a $220 million investment into the facility, to be completed in phases.
That brings to three the number of local elections held in the state this year as operators bid for gaming licenses. The overwhelming support in Raynham followed a similar result in Everett for a full casino bid by Wynn Resorts; Springfield voters were much more divided when they approved an MGM Resorts casino proposal last month by a margin of 58 to 42.
Several more votes are set for next month – West Springfield on September 10 for a Hard Rock casino proposal, and slot parlor votes in Tewksbury (September 21), Leominster and Millbury (both September 24).
Before any election can be scheduled, gaming operators must come to host community agreements, and three remain works in progress. Mohegan Sun is still in negotiations with Palmer for a casino there, although word is that an agreement could come this week. Suffolk Downs/Caesars has yet to come to an agreement with Boston, perhaps indicating the eventual vote will be closer than expected. And Milford town officials voted last week to move forward in negotiations with Foxwoods, despite concerns about the project details. So for the single casino license in the Boston metro area, what once might have been seen as a slam-dunk for Suffolk Downs has turned into a hard-fought horse race.
The competition is also formidable for the single slot parlor license. Originally, four companies signaled their intentions, but Penn National Gaming joined the fray after being rebuked in its effort to bid for a full casino in Springfield (city officials there chose a proposal from rival MGM Resorts). And just last week, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission declared Plainridge Racecourse unfit for a license, leaving that track scrambling for a buyer to save the site as a possible slot parlor.
Mass Gaming & Entertainment, headed by Neil Bluhm’s Rush Street Gaming, is working with Millbury, just south of Worcester in the central part of the state. Leominster, about halfway between Worcester and the New Hampshire state line, is the site of a slot parlor proposal from PPE Casino Resorts, affiliated with The Cordish Companies. And Penn National’s site is in Tewksbury, northwest of Boston not far from New Hampshire.