BOSTON – Massachusetts is inching closer to the official launch of its casino industry, as Penn National Gaming submitted revised plans Thursday for a slot parlor slated to open in June along the Rhode Island border while regulators highlighted steps the state still needs to complete before it can oversee gambling operations.
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Plans for Plainridge Park still call for a gambling floor with 1,250 slot machines but other parts of the $225 project have changed slightly, according to a report submitted to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
A room for meetings and conferences has been enlarged to accommodate up to 300 people, for example, while the casino food court has been pared back to three operators that will offer burgers, pizzas and coffee and pastries.
The update from Penn National also revealed new details about the casino's other amenities, including an entertainment venue with a stage and dance floor and an oyster bar and grille.
The Pennsylvania-based company had previously announced the casino would feature a sports bar named after former Boston College and New England Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie.
The Gaming Commission found little to object in the revisions. "Everything is looking good," remarked Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby.
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Plainridge Park is slated to open June 24 at the harness racing track in Plainville, which kicked off a new live racing season on Wednesday.
The casino will offer electronic gambling machines but not live casino table games like blackjack and roulette.
Two larger casinos are also in development in Massachusetts: an $800 million MGM resort in Springfield and a $1.7 billion Wynn resort in Everett. Those two facilities are not expected to open until late 2017 at the earliest.
The state, meanwhile, has been ramping up staff and working to finalize gambling-related regulations as the casino industry is poised to make its first official entry into Massachusetts.
The Gaming Commission has hired 12 new agents to provide an around-the-clock presence at the slot parlor while state police are also planning to station officers at the casino, according to a staff report.
The commission has also approved the casino's surveillance and security plans, among other things.
But other significant steps are still pending, including the development of a unique "play management" system that would help gamblers limit how much time and cash they spend at slot machines.
And at least one of the state's proposed gambling regulations generated protest this week.
Plainville Town Moderator Luke Travis says he's opposed to a rule banning elected officials from gambling at a casino located in the town they represent.
"Such a rule is overreaching and seems to smack of a violation of constitutional rights as a citizen," he wrote in a letter to the commission. "At the very least, if implemented, this rule will cause future nominees for elected office to give pause as to whether they want to give up their freedoms in order to serve in these voluntary positions."