State legislators stated that there appear to be enough votes in the House to approve slot machines for the racing tracks in the state of Massachusetts this fall. But can it be approved on time to save Raynham Park? State Representative David Flynn (Democrat-Bridgewater), is not so sure. Flynn, who has advocated for years to place slot machines to the racing track, is worried that even if the process move fast enough, it might be too late.
The track is slated to shutdown on January 1st, 2010, potentially leading to six hundred job cuts, due to a referendum last year making wagering on greyhound racing illegal in the state of Massachusetts. Flynn said that the whole slots process could take a year as the state need to create regulations and commission before giving its approval.
Estimates suggest that the proposed 2,500 machines could be installed within one hundred days. Flynn said that the only way to keep the racing track open for business will be to continue the racing track’s live video simulcasts, which permits wagering on horse races from other locations. But that is also set to end in January 2010, unless a bill sponsored by Flynn and 5 other legislators passes, extending the live video simulcasts.
Flynn said that he is hopeful but not one hundred percent sure that the bill will pass. As for keeping dog racing at the track, Flynn does not believe that the legislature has any interest in approving a bill to do this. The owner of the Raynham Park, George Carney, stated on August 28th, 2009, that he is optimistic that the park and its hundreds of jobs will be saved but said that he does not have any predictions about how things will work out.
Carney said that he is not considering turning the racing track into a resort casino since his main interest lies on slot machines. Legislators are expected to start holding hearings as soon as September 2009 on bills proposing expanded gaming offerings in the state. State Sen. Marc Pacheco (Democrat-Taunton), said that the bleak economic feature for Massachusetts makes increased taxable gambling much more attractive to legislators in the past.
Pacheco believes that some proposals that previously never gotten support will be reviewed seriously right now. Those include installing slot machines for the state’s 4 racing tracks and licensing several casino resorts for the state. Governor Deval Patrick, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray of Plymouth all support expanded gaming but it is not known if they will give their approval on the details.
Gov. Patrick’s proposal to allow 3 casinos-one in greater Boston, southeastern and western parts of Massachusetts-was dismissed by House legislators this year. But the condition of the economy and the House speaker changed since then.
Former House Speaker Sal DiMasi was a major opponent of the plan. Pacheco said that a proposal similar to Gov. Patrick could be brought up for talks this fall, though the number of casino facilities may be scaled down to 2 as a compromise to gaming critics. Aside from that, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe and its gaming investors say that they are continuing to pursue plans to build a casino facility in Middleboro. But the project is not certain amid concerns that a US Supreme Court decision in February 2009 has spelled the end for the casino plans.