assachusetts representatives have pitched expansion plans for Plainridge slots parlor in a Tuesday hearing. The Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies discussed a proposal to expand casino-style gambling in the state by allowing table games at the state’s sole slots parlor.
The idea had already been proposed in previous sessions, although it didn't gain much traction in the past, reports 7 News Boston. The latest push comes as the state nears the 10-year anniversary of the vote to legalize casino gambling in Massachusetts. Plainridge Park Casino, in Plainville, has long competed with two nearby Rhode Island gaming facilities for southeastern Massachusetts’ gambling dollars.
Representatives for that part of the state renewed their support on Tuesday to authorize but not require the state’s Gaming Commission to allow the slots-only facility to add “up to 30 table games and additional 250 slot machines.”
According to Rep. Jeff Roy, of Franklin, Rhode Island’s planned major expansion at Twin River will put Plainridge at a competitive disadvantage. “We’re here to push for a modest expansion of Plainridge so that the commonwealth can best compete with our neighbors to the south, and we can protect the jobs, our local businesses, and the tax revenues that have been generated from Plainridge Park,” said Roy according to the previously cited news source.
Massachusetts legalized casino-style gambling in the state ten years ago on a framework that includes up to three resort-style casinos, with two of three licenses issued to MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor, and one slots parlor: Plainridge Park Casino holds said slots-only license. While parent company Penn National Gaming is conscious of the limits of this permit due to the gambling structure in the state, it sees an opportunity to change that.
“The one thing that changed was how Rhode Island responded,” said Jeff Morris, vice president of public affairs and government relations at Penn National on the slots-only permission. According to the VP, adding 30 table games could lead up to 175 new jobs at the gambling facility.
Rep. Shawn Dooley agrees, and told the committee that the success of Plainridge Park could report benefits for the region at large, including various towns. “What we hope, too, is as this expands it becomes even more of a regional play,” said Dooley, who says expanded gaming could report benefits for the Wrentham outlets and concert venues in the area, among others. It could convert the region into a “substantial revenue source for the commonwealth in an entertainment field.”
Morris also says that the Gaming Commission would be able to determine how to address the difference between the one-time licensing fee of $25 million for the slots parlor, and the $85 million fee for the state’s resort casinos.
A second proposal to expand gambling was proposed at the meeting: allowing slots at veterans' halls. Legislation to allow the Plymouth American Legion organization to operate up to five slot machines for its members also saw its share of support on Tuesday.