09/25/2014 4:00PM

Massachusetts Gaming Commission explores ways to save racing


BOSTON  - With the tight deadline for racing dates applications fast approaching, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is looking for ways to help live Thoroughbred racing continue in the state.

“We’re trying to keep the door open, ” said commissioner James McHugh during an open hearing Thursday.

Nonetheless, the door was slammed shut when the MGC voted on Sept. 16 to award the single Boston area casino license to Wynn Resorts instead of to gaming rival Mohegan Sun, which had partnered with Suffolk Downs and proposed developing a world-class casino on racetrack grounds.

Immediately thereafter, the owners of Suffolk Downs, who would be forced to compete with a $1.6 billion Wynn casino located two miles away upon its completion, announced live racing is coming to an end at the 79-year-old track and they will not apply for 2015 dates.

During the hearings, the five-member commission decided to allow “placeholder” applications indicating an operator’s intent to race as long as the paperwork is filed by the Oct. 1 deadline. They then directed MGC’s legal team to review current legislation governing racing to determine where the commission has administrative flexibility on the matter of completed applications.

The owners of the Brockton Fair Grounds have stated they intend to file an application for a 60-day meet in 2015. But the facility, which has a five-furlong dirt track and no turf course and has been idle since 2001, has stalls for fewer than 200 horses and no dormitories or backside facilities for workers.

It was expressed during the hearing that the state’s Thoroughbred industry is best served if there is live racing at Suffolk Downs, where the racing strip is one-mile and there is a seven- furlong turf course and chute along with a full stable area, and the commissioners concurred with that opinion.

The commissioners also received an update on coordinated efforts by the Massachusetts Division of Labor and Workforce’s Rapid Response Team and Suffolk Downs to assist track employees who will be laid off and other industry stakeholders affected by the track’s impending closure.

The final day of live racing is Oct. 4.


Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
Hard to understand why MA commission in effect "threw Suffolk under the bus". Also, there is nor will there ever be a "first class" anything in MA. It is a state based on doing things the "cheap" way and it's customer base would not know first class if it hit them in the head. Where do a large percentage of MA people stay in LV? Circus Circus and Excalliber why? "it's cheap and I can go to another casino to pay or eat" MA bread mentality.
John Howland More than 1 year ago
History says you should be an expert on cheap.
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
Dude, you would not know class if it hit you in the head. MA, way is always to take the cheap way.
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
Since the potato famine you people have been cheap.
raymond More than 1 year ago
Is it not so that when the final vote on Nov.4th is tallied and if all are in favor of Gaming in the State that like 37 other states across this country that a percentage of the taxes from the gaming will subsidize the thoroughbred/harness industry? If this is so, then why? I ask is it that they have already been discussing how to save the racing industry in Ma.? The taxes alone will suffice in keeping racing alive here for many years to come. All this is predicated on the up or down vote come this Nov. 4th. All those in favor, say Aye, all those opposed say, Nay.
jon g More than 1 year ago
MGC is just another corrupt Ma. gov't organization