08/17/2010 1:59PM

Suffolk cutting purses in wake of slots setback

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Suffolk Downs will cut purses 26 percent through the end of the 2010 season following the failure of an expanded gaming bill that could have brought slot machines to the East Boston track.

The reduction will pull daily average purses down to $66,000, allowing the track to save $1 million over the final 50 days of the meet while still meeting state mandates for purse distribution.

Massachusetts racetracks were in line to open slots parlors or resort casinos when the state legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill allowing the operation July 31 in the waning hours of its formal sessions. Gov. Deval Patrick amended the bill, howeverm sending it back without provisions for racetrack casinos, effectively killing it for this year.

Suffolk hopes to avoid layoffs with the purse cuts, although officials indicated they are looking at further cost-saving measures. The state’s two other tracks each announced layoffs last week.

“Ownership has invested several million dollars over the last few years in an effort to support local horsemen and enhance our racing product,” said Suffolk Downs’ chairman, Bill Mulrow. “We are faced with difficult decisions as we strive to preserve our current workforce. We understand that this reduction will cause difficulty for the horsemen and horsewomen who have supported our racing program, and we appreciate their perseverance.”

Suffolk’s season runs through Nov. 13.