Suffolk Downs is back in the casino talk, and horse racing in the state of Massachusetts may on the mend as well, due to the successful start of Plainridge Rark Casino, which was added to Plainridge Harness Race track this summer. Plainridge Park has live harness racing 3-4 times per week, and simulcast racing daily.
A proposal to allow a second slots casino to be built at Suffolk Downs was among the 22 petitions certified by AG Maura Healey this past week. But residents in East Boston have repeatedly stopped efforts to revive Suffolk Downs with casino gambling in the form of slots, making it a racino much like those in Delaware, West Virginia and Rhode Island (remember Lincoln Greyhound Park?). The only way Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs made it’s proposal for a full casino for the Boston license, later dismissed by the MGC in favor of Wynn, is because the casino would have been in Revere – a community welcoming casino gambling.
According to Stephanie Ebbert of the Boston Globe, “The petition calls for issuing an additional slots license to a gaming establishment at least four acres large that is within 1,500 feet of an adjacent horse racing track, along with paddocks, barns, auditorium, amphitheater, and/or bleachers. The language even specifies that the track must have “hosted a horse racing meeting,” and that the establishment cannot be separated from a track by a highway.”
Last Saturday, Suffolk Downs, New England’s only thoroughbred racetrack, hosted the first of three days called a Festival of Racing, with 13 horse races, Boston food trucks, music, and gambling. The hope was to ignite some nostalgia among the track’s clientele and gain support for a possible equestrian center elsewhere in Massachusetts. Organizers said about 6,000 people attended the event.
An interesting problem that seems to be destined to help the tiny horse racing industry in Massachusetts is the large sum of money made at Plainridge Park Casino. According to the Associated Press, “The state’s obscure Race Horse Development Fund has generated roughly $10.3 million in revenue and is on track to receive almost $18 million more this fiscal year.” Not bad financial help for only two race tracks – Suffolk Downs & Plainridge Park.
So, maybe there WILL be a renaissance of horse racing in the Bay State. With renewed interest in adding slots to the state’s gambling plan and money designated for horse racing development, Massachusetts may hear the bugle starting call more often in the future.
That’s all for now.