Contact Us
Make My Homepage

Penn National Gaming Moves Ahead With Slot Parlor Construction

Getty Images

Plans to open the state’s first slot parlor are moving forward at a harness racing track near the Rhode Island state line despite a vote in three months on whether to repeal Massachusetts’ 2011 casino law, which made the project possible.

Penn National Gaming won the state’s first gambling license for a proposed slot parlor at the Plainridge Racecourse in February and officially broke ground on the $225 million project in March. A construction crew of about 200 is working on the 100-acre property.

The parlor is being built beside the racetrack’s current clubhouse and simulcast betting facility. It will feature about 1,250 slot machines as well as video poker and video blackjack terminals.

Jay Snowden, Penn National’s chief operating officer, said the company is moving forward with its plans despite the November vote.

‘‘It’s a risk, but it’s a calculated risk,’’ he said on a recent site visit with company officials, local politicians and labor union leaders. ‘‘We’re confident we’ll prevail in November.’’

In the coming weeks, the Wyomissing, Pennsylvania-based company will begin taking applications for about 500 permanent jobs at the casino. By November, it expects to have spent more than $100 million on the project and to have the exterior construction finished. The facility, which will be called Plainridge Park Casino, is set to open next June.

Darek Barcikowski, campaign manager for the anti-casino ‘‘Repeal the Casino Deal’’ group, said Penn National is overconfident. He noted that other gambling operators — notably MGM Resorts International, which was granted a casino license for its $800 million Springfield development — have chosen to wait out the November vote before breaking ground.

Casino supporters, however, see the construction activity at Plainridge as a critical piece in the run-up to November, providing voters a tangible example of the casino law’s economic potential.

Labor unions representing some construction workers on the site promise to hammer home that economic development message to voters in the weeks and months ahead.

‘‘When you bring organized labor into a political fight, it’s about troops on the ground,’’ said David Fenton, business manager for the Local 223 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Penn National, meanwhile, has joined with MGM and Mohegan Sun, which is seeking a casino license to open a $1.3 billion resort outside Boston, to finance a recently formed political organization to defeat the ballot question.

It’s called the Committee to Preserve Jobs Associated with Casino Gaming Law.

Plainville Town Administrator Joseph Fernandes applauds the company for moving forward with the project despite the uncertainty.

The town, which has just over 8,000 residents, stands to earn at least $1.5 million in annual property taxes from the slot parlor project, as well as roughly $2 million to $3 million a year in gambling profits through an agreement with Penn National that local voters overwhelmingly approved. That revenue, Fernandes said, will help pay for capital projects, such as a new town hall and public safety complex without burdening taxpayers.


Best of WBSM

Recommended for You

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for 1420 Club quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!

Sign up to have exclusive 1420 Club contests, events, coupons, presales, and much more delivered to you for FREE.