01/10/2014 12:08PM

Suffolk Downs pledges to continue racing if Mohegan Sun gets casino license


Although Suffolk Downs would not be required by state statute to continue live racing should Mohegan Sun be awarded the sole destination resort casino license designated for the Greater Boston area, track officials notified the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that they would do so as long their gaming partner is selected as the licensee.

The track sent a letter to the MGC on Jan. 9 stating that Sterling Suffolk Racecourse intends to commit to live racing for the initial 15-year term of Mohegan Sun’s gaming license should the casino titan develop and operate a $1 billion casino on racetrack grounds.

“We take very seriously our role as stewards of a 79-year tradition in the commonwealth and our responsibility to our loyal workforce and horsemen,” said Richard Fields, principal owner of Suffolk Downs in a statement. “We have worked hard and invested much over the last several years to ensure the legacy of New England’s last active Thoroughbred racing venue.”

Nonetheless, Suffolk Downs did not discuss what would happen if the only other remaining applicant for the Boston area license, Wynn Resorts, is successful and develops a proposed $1.3 billion casino in Everett, Mass., which is located only two miles from the racetrack.

Should Mohegan Sun win the license to own and operate the casino, Suffolk Downs would be the landlord and the gaming and racing operations would be required to be entirely separate. Consequently, the backside would have to be relocated from the City of Revere side of the property, where the casino would be sited, to the East Boston side or elsewhere.

If the stable area can’t be rebuilt in East Boston, Suffolk officials said they would consider moving the stable area off site “within a reasonable distance of the venue” and the horses would be shipped in to race.

Mohegan Sun’s proposal must be approved by the voters of Revere in a Feb. 25 referendum and the MGC stated it hopes to award the casino license in May.