Day At The Track

Plainville voters approve Plainridge plan for slots

12:03 AM 12 Sep 2013 NZST
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Harness racing
Plainridge Racecourse

Plans for a slot parlor in Plainville got a boost from voters Tuesday, while residents in West Springfield rejected a casino proposal for their town.

Plainville residents voted in favor of Penn National’s plans for a slots parlor, with 76 percent approving a host agreement with the gambling company.

With a 37 percent turnout, 1,582 Plainville residents supported having a slots parlor in their community, while just 502 opposed, according to results read by Town Clerk Ellen Robertson.

Separately, West Springfield voters on Tuesday defeated a casino proposal by Hard Rock, by a vote of 4,165 to 3,413. That leaves only MGM in Springfield and Mohegan Sun in Palmer the remaining alternatives in Western Massachusetts.

In Plainville, if Penn wins the state’s sole slot parlor license and is also permitted to continue harness racing, the company would acquire the 89-acre racetrack property in town at Interstate 495 and Route 1, about 5 miles south of Gillette Stadium.

The track would be renovated and expanded to fit as many as 1,250 slot machines and other amenities.

In Plainville, the results were read at the Beatrice Wood School, the town’s lone polling location to a loud cheer from about 25 townspeople, many of whom said the promise of more than $4 million a year in taxes, and a strong desire to keep harness racing alive in the state swayed public opinion.

“We got our votes out, this town needs this,” said Dale Bergvine , a lifelong Plainville resident and member of the pro-slots group People for Plainville.

Plainridge track spokesman Bill Ryan said the vote reflects a tremendous amount of confidence in the project.

“It’s not bad considering we were dead three weeks ago,” he said, grinning, referring to the company’s losing effort to persuade Tewksbury to back a slots parlor.

Mary-Ann Greanier, a member of No Plainville Racino said her group is considering it’s next move, which could include a lawsuit.

“The process isn’t working,” she said. “The safeguards we were told to expect are not taking place.”

Tuesday night, a spokesman for Penn described the next steps in the process, from the company’s standpoint.

“We’re grateful for the overwhelming support expressed today for expanded gaming at Plainridge Race Course. We’re excited to continue to work with the community, and to build upon the great work that has been done thus far here in Plainville. Our next step will be to file our harness racing application on October 1, followed by our formal submission to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on October 4 for a category two gaming license,’’ Eric Schippers, senior vice president of Penn National Gaming said in a prepared statement.

By Ellen Ishkanian (reprinted with permission by

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