The relationship between casinos and their host communities can be a tenuous one. But, in Plainville, Massachusetts, the opposite is true. Plainville municipal and public safety officials, state lawmakers all gave resounding approval to relicense Plainridge. No one in an elected capacity or from the public spoke in opposition to the renewal. This October, all got their wish. Plainridge Park Casino License Gets Five More Years.
Journey To Renewal
The Covid-19 Shutdown
Last summer, the town of Plainville opened a newly-constructed $34 million municipal complex. It has made a huge difference in the services the town can provide. Payments for that facility are made using the money that Plainridge Park must pay its host community monthly.
When Plainridge Park Casino was ordered to shut down in March, Plainville Town Administrator Jennifer Thompson was concerned about her town’s finances. Plainridge didn’t re-open until July.
A Good Member of the Community
“Whenever there is a need, [Penn National] step up and they’re there. So they’re really a good neighbor and a good partner and a good friend. They’re truly a member of the community. It is a very, very positive environment.”Rep. Shawn Dooley
“The company could have easily made the argument that they would not be able to honor their required monthly payments to the town. They, in fact, did the complete opposite,” Thompson told the Mass. Gaming Commission on Wednesday. “Penn National reached out to us very early in the shutdown and assured us that they would still provide the town with the much-needed revenue, especially given the dire financial situation the town was in.”
“Penn National Gaming, the gambling giant that owns Plainridge Park Casino, “went the extra mile” and made payments to the town “well before the schedule that we had anticipated and agreed upon.”Jennifer Thompson, Plainville Town Administrator
Plainridge Park Casino and Raceway Opened in 2015
The Massachusetts Expanded Gaming Law of 2011 opened the door for the three Massachusetts casinos in business today.
Since it opened June 24, 2015, gamblers have put more than $9.7 billion into the slot machines at Plainridge, and the $250 million property has generated about $777 million in gross gaming revenue.
Pre-renewal data needed from Penn National Gaming detailed how the slots parlor has performed. Plainridge Park’s performance was compared to its many company goals set before the facility opened in June 2015. These stats included the expected revenue flow and what kinds of benefits would accrue to the surrounding communities.
Table Games Addition?
Once again, officials re-initiated the possibility of authorizing table games at the currently slots-only Plainridge Park Casino. Many critics in and out of Massachusetts cite this as essential to Plainridge Park’s future success. Both of the two nearby Rhode Island betting facilities offer table games. In fact, every other casino in New England offers table games.
This leaves Plainridge Park Casino at a future disadvantage. Any long-term strategy for continued success at Plainridge Park Casino must include expanded opportunities in the form of table games, in our opinion.
Leadership Change While Plainridge Park Casino License Gets Five More Years
Plainridge Park Casino, the Plainville slots parlor was the first property to open under the state’s expanded gambling law five years ago.
But Plainridge will be moving forward without Lance George, who has been general manager of the property since before it opened, is leaving. George will take over as head of Penn’s Argosy Casino Riverside in Kansas City.
Plainridge Park Casino will be getting a new manager to go with its renewed license. North Grounsell, assistant GM at Penn’s Ameristar Black Hawk casino in Colorado, will run Plainridge. The transition is expected by the end of the year, Penn National confirmed.
The unanimous decision extends Planridge’s license by five years and marks the first time that the commission has had to reauthorize a casino. The two larger casinos in the state, Encore Boston Harbor in Everett and MGM Springfield, opened later. Their renewals will be coming in future years, with MGM Springfield examined in.