New Bills Call for Table Games, More Slots at Plainridge Casino

A pair of Massachusetts lawmakers have launched a new effort to transform Plainridge Park Casino into a full-blown casino with table games after the state’s only commercial slot parlor had a nightmare year in 2020.

During a Tuesday meeting, the state Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies devoted much of its attention to a duo of bills calling for the introduction of table games at the gambling venue and the addition of more slot machines.

The two measures, HB 507 and HB 532, are sponsored by State Reps. Shawn Dooley and Jeff Roy. Both lawmakers’ legislative districts include the town of Plainville which is home to the live harness and slot machine venue.

If the recently introduced bills succeed in the state Legislature, they would authorize the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to allow the addition of up to 30 table games and 250 slot machines at Plainridge.

The facility’s current Category 2 gaming license from the state gambling regulator allows it to host up to 1,250 slot machines.

Plainridge is one of the state’s three commercial gambling venues. The other two – MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor – are full-scale, Las Vegas-style resorts with both slot machines and table games.

Covid-19 Impact and Competition from Neighboring States

Efforts for the expansion of Plainridge’s gambling options are made after the slot-only casino had a terrible year in 2020 in terms of revenue. The facility recorded a 46% drop in revenue last year to $82.2 million. The reported figure was down $70 million from the venue’s gaming proceeds in 2019.

The significant decline was mostly due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the state’s efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Massachusetts’ casinos stayed closed for four months between March and July 2020 as part of the anti-pandemic measures adopted by the state. When they reopened, they operated at limited capacity for another year until Memorial Day weekend.

Reps. Dooley and Roy also cited competition from neighboring states, particularly Rhode Island, as an important reason for Plainridge to be allowed to add more gambling options to its existing ones.

Rep. Roy said Tuesday that Rhode Island is planning a major expansion at its Tiverton casino, a Bally’s Corp.-owned property that opened doors a couple of years ago, and that this planned expansion would “put Plainridge and my communities at a further competitive disadvantage.”

The Tiverton gambling venue features 4,100 gaming machines, 80 table games, and a sportsbook. The property’s planned expansion will see the addition of 40,000 square feet of space, which will mostly be used for more gaming options.

Rep. Roy further noted that he and his fellow lawmaker are pushing for “a modest expansion of Plainridge so that the commonwealth can best compete with our neighbors to the south, protect jobs, local businesses, and the tax revenues that have been generated” from the gambling venue.

Source: Lawmakers Propose To Expand Plainridge Park Casino With Table Games, More Slot Machines, CBS Boston, September 15, 2021

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