By Rick Foster for www.thesunchronicle.com
Gov. Deval Patrick has blocked legislation that would reduce the state’s take on simulcast greyhound racing featured at Plainridge Racecourse and the state’s two other race tracks.
Patrick sent the bill back with an amendment knocking out a provision he said would drain $600,000 budgeted for the state Gaming Commission and create a continuing shortfall.
The gaming commission’s racing division oversees live horse racing at Suffolk Downs and Plainridge Racecourse. The tracks, along with the former Raynham Park dog track, also feature simulcasts of races from other facilities.
The bill, originally filed by state Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, applies only to simulcast greyhound events and would also reduce the number of live racing days the tracks would have to host in order to qualify for simulcasting. Dooley said the provision reducing the state’s revenue take was not part of his original proposal and was added by another House member.
Dooley said he was “thrilled” by the governor’s action which would leave the other portions of the bill intact.
Penn National Gaming, which won a state license for a slot parlor in Plainville, is currently constructing a new facility in that town while continuing its harness racing schedule. Suffolk Downs, located in Revere and Boston, is competing with Wynn Resorts for a full casino license. Raynham Park, which lost out to Plainridge in its bid for a slot license, continues to offer simulcast wagering.
A statewide referendum scheduled for November asks voters to repeal the 2011 law legalizing casino gambling. If approved, the measure would also ban simulcast dog racing.
Dooley said he expects the amended bill will be taken up next week in the House.