Mass. breaks ground on first slot parlor

Officials attend the groundbreaking of Plainridge Casino Park. (Photo: Susan Campbell/WPRI 12)

PLAINVILLE, Mass. (WPRI) –With balloons and fanfare, Penn National Gaming on Friday broke ground on a $225 million slots parlor at the Plainridge harness race track in Plainville.

The ceremony marks the start of construction on Massachusetts’ first major gambling facility. Penn National was awarded the state’s only slots parlor license last month by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

This artist's rendition released in Oct 2013 by Penn National Gaming shows the company's casino at its proposed location in Plainville, Mass. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted by a 3-2 margin to offer a license to the company for the state's first and only slots parlor with a maximum of 1,250 slot machines, but no table games. (AP Photo/Penn National Gaming)
This artist’s rendition released in Oct 2013 by Penn National Gaming shows the company’s casino at its proposed location in Plainville, Mass. (AP Photo/Penn National Gaming)

Penn National, which operates 26 other gambling operations in the U.S. and Canada, anticipates opening the slot parlor in a little over a year, with key positions likely filled by this summer.

In addition to hundreds of temporary construction jobs, the company says there will be 500 new, permanent jobs at the casino after it opens.

Under its license, the facility will be allowed to install up to 1,250 slot machines, but cannot offer table games such as blackjack.

Affects on Rhode Island

Of the three proposed Massachusetts locations, the Plainville slots parlor – just 30 minutes away from Rhode Island’s Twin River casino – is positioned to cut into the Ocean State’s gambling revenue, experts believe.

“Whether it’s Raynham or Taunton or Plainville, we knew it was coming,” Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee said. “Once they got into the business, it was going to affect our revenue.”

Gambling is currently Rhode Island’s third-largest source of state revenue, projected to bring in $394 million during the current 2013-14 fiscal year and $400 million in 2014-15.

“Once these facilities all come online in Massachusetts it’s going to stimulate a very significant debate on taxes, spending and tax structure in the state of Rhode Island,” predicted University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Professor Clyde Barrow – an expert on casino gaming. “It’s a state that is going to be surrounded by two very formidable competitors in the form of Connecticut and Massachusetts.”



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