07/07/2010 12:00AM

Suffolk describes casino plans


Suffolk Downs is positioning itself to handle the prospect of expanded gambling coming to Massachusetts after unveiling preliminary development plans for the track's 163-acre property just outside Boston.

The track's owners are touting the job creation the new casino complex would generate as well as the track's location as a potential huge money machine for the cash-strapped state as gambling bills make their way through the legislature.

"As the legislature and the governor work to finalize their approach on expanded gaming, our ownership is prepared to immediately invest hundreds of millions of dollars," said Richard Fields, the track's principal owner. "[We hope] to create a development that will produce thousands of good jobs, enhance the area's strong tourism base, generate revenue for the state and neighboring communities, while preserving New England's last remaining Thoroughbred racetrack."

There are two plans working their way through the statehouse. One already approved by the House would allow for "racinos" at the commonwealth's two horse tracks and former greyhound tracks. The other calls for resort-style destination casinos to be built at key locations across the state.

Fields was a casino developer before buying the majority interest in Suffolk in 2007. Suffolk was prepared to bid on a resort casino license when Gov. Deval Patrick pushed for them that year. That plan eventually was defeated in the legislature.

The proposed development calls for renovation of the track building followed by construction of a luxury hotel and casino along a coastal New England theme.