After years of a whole lot of planning and proposals, Massachusetts has finally awarded its first gaming license. Ok, it’s not one of the three casino licenses that are still up for grabs; instead, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has given the state’s only slots parlor license to Penn National Gaming.
Pop the champagne, Penn National. You’ve earned it.
After much discussion and debate among the gaming commissioners, the commission finally awarded the slots license to Penn National’s Plainville project, which is slated to include a slots parlor with 1,250 slot machines. On top of that, the development will also feature a Doug Flutie-themed sports bar, a high-end restaurant, and four venue food courts, all of which will complement harness racing, which will continue to be offered, albeit renamed the Plainridge Park Casino once all the other gaming, retail, and entertainment facilities are added to the property.
It didn’t come easy for Penn National Gaming, which actually saw two of the five state commissioners vote against its proposal, including chairman Stephen Crosby who actually supported the Massachusetts Live! slots parlor in Leominster because of its “location, local tie-ins, and potential to lift up the region”.
But Penn got its votes after the commission voted 3 to 2 in favor of the Plainville project. Commissioners Gayle Cameron, Enrique Zuniga and Bruce Stebbins voted for the project with Crosby and James McHugh voting against it.
That’s all Penn needed and now it has the single slots license in the state in its back pocket. It’s been quite a ride for the Pennsylvania-based company in its quest to have a presence in the state. It’s original plan was to pursue a resort casino in Springfield, but that was shot down when Springfield mayor Domenic Sarno opted to give his consent to Penn’s rival, MGM Resorts International, over its own proposal.
But in the end, Penn National got what it wanted. “We always felt very confident that our proposal brought the most value to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts largely because not just our experience and the location and all of the support locally via the town referendum but also because of the horse racing component,”Penn National Gaming Chief Operating Officer Jay Snowden said.
Now that the license is with Penn, the next step is to sit down with the gaming commission to see if a temporary casino option is available before the the new Plainville racino opens sometime next year.