Massachusetts Lawmakers Pushing for Plainridge Park Boost
Lawmakers in Massachusetts are pushing new legislation to see Plainridge Park Casino become a fully operational gaming venue.
In Massachusetts, there are three casinos in operation, MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor, and Plainridge Park. The first two are fully functioning casinos while Plainridge only offers slot gaming. The Plainridge property suffered a heavy blow last year due to COVID-19 and the lack of games the property is able to provide. Now, to lawmakers are trying to see the property become a full casino with the introduction of new legislation.
Earlier this week, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies had a meeting. During the meeting, attention was given to two bills that will bring table games to Plainridge along with more slot games.
Representative Shawn Dooley and Jeff Roy are both spearheading the effort with HB 507 and HB 532. The lawmakers represent Plainville which is where the slot parlor is located. They want to see the facility grow and offer even more gaming options.
If the bills are approved, the facility would be able to add 250 more slot games and 30 table games. Right now, the casino functions with a Category 2 license. This allows the property to have as many as 1,250 slot games. Encore and MGM Springfield are much larger and operates with a different type of gaming license.
Help Might Be On The Way
The lawmakers see the bills as a way to help Plainridge Park make up for the major losses in 2020. Because the property only offers slot games, it took a much larger hit than the other venues. Plus the fact that less games are provided.
In 2020, the casino saw a 46% drop in earnings, bringing in just over $82 million. This is $70 million less than the earnings from 2019. The decline was of course due to the pandemic and the lack of casino services in an attempt to slow the virus down in the state.
Casinos in Massachusetts were closed for four months last year and when they reopened, a much smaller percentage of people were allowed inside. It was not until Memorial Day that the venues were allowed to open at 100% capacity.
Both Roy and Dooley have pointed out that competition in nearby states is also an issue. Rhode Island plays a major factor as to why the Plainridge Park venue should be allowed to offer more service options. The Tiverton Casino owned by Bally’s takes a lot of the traffic from Plainridge and now that the casino is going to expand, it will be an even bigger threat.
The Tiverton property is quite large, offering over 4,000 slot machines and 80 table games. There is also a sportsbook on site. The lawmakers believe that if Plainridge can offer more services, it will not lose out to the Tiverton venue when it comes to local player traffic.
Both lawmakers want to see a modest expansion of the Plainridge property so that the state can better compete with its neighbors as well as protect jobs and local businesses. More tax revenues would also be beneficial.
It will be interesting to see how the legislation progresses. Will there be enough support to see the smaller casino change into a much larger venue? Will there be pushback from local residents because the venue would be larger? Only time will tell what will become of the legislation, but hopefully, the casino will be allowed to grow and offer even more great services to residents and visitors of the state.