Goodwin Gaming
April 4, 2016

Ballot Initiative for Another Slots Parlor in Massachusetts

Massachusetts voters may have the choice to “hit” or “stand” on another gaming establishment. A potential ballot question for this November is whether the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (“MGC”) should be allowed to issue an additional license for a second slots parlor in the state—with a few strings attached. The proposed law requires that the slots parlor be within a certain distance of a horse race track or a location that can accommodate horse racing. The initiative petition is currently before the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. If the Joint Committee does not approve the measure this month, then the proponents will have to gather more signatures to get the question on the November ballot.

There are two existing horse race tracks in Massachusetts: Plainridge Racetrack in Plainville and Suffolk Downs in Boston. Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville was licensed under the 2011 Expanded Gaming Act as a slots parlor with harness racing. So the proposed law is calling for the same arrangement, but in a different location (read: Suffolk Downs in Boston). With a slots parlor in Plainville, licenses for casinos in Everett and Springfield, a pending application for a casino in Brockton, and potentially a tribal casino in Taunton, the Massachusetts gaming landscape has certainly developed since the 2011 Act. Is there still room to expand? Will another slots parlor oversaturate the market? Those are questions for the Joint Committee or voters to decide.