Raynham Park owner sueing to block Plainridge

02:26 PM 13 May 2014 NZST
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George Carney, harness racing
George Carney listens to testimony at a hearing in Raynham.
Taunton Gazette Photo by Mike Gay

RAYNHAM, MA — After falling short in his application for the state’s lone slots parlor license, Raynham Park owner George Carney has sued the state Gaming Commission in an effort to block Penn National Gaming from opening its planned gambling facility in Plainville.

The lawsuit, which was filed late Friday, calls for the state’s Supreme Judicial Court to revoke the slots license the commission issued in February to Penn National. Carney claims that Ourway Realty, the disqualified former owner of Plainridge Racecourse, will continue to profit once the slots parlor opens in 2015.

Penn National said the lawsuit’s claims lack merit.

The Gaming Commission banned Ourway from seeking a license last summer after state investigators accused Plainridge president Gary Piontkowski of pocketing more than $1 million from the track’s cash room over a 10-year period.

Plainridge got back in the running after Springfield Gaming, a subsidiary of Penn National, struck a deal to buy the harness track from Ourway, then filed a new application. The commission awarded the slots license to Penn National in March on a 3-2 vote, with Raynham Park getting no votes.

Carney’s lawsuit, however, claims the license was issued “in violation” of state law and that the purchase agreement between Ourway and Springfield Gaming calls for the disqualified former track owner to receive a percentage of the gambling operation’s earning “in perpetuity.”

“Springfield Gaming’s failure to disclose Ourway’s interests, the nature of such interests and the names and addresses of all members of Ourway on its application rendered its application false and misleading…” the lawsuit states.

A Gaming Commission spokeswoman said Monday that the panel had not yet been served with the lawsuit and was unable to comment.

Springfield Gaming and Ourway are also listed as defendants.

“Their claims are legally and factually deficient,” Eric Schippers, Penn National’s senior vice president of public affairs, said in a statement. “The Gaming Commission did a thorough and transparent job evaluating the applications and acted appropriately. Given that the Carney proposal did not garner even a single vote, I'm not sure what they're ultimately trying to accomplish.”

Carney and his attorney, Matthew Kozol, did not return calls for comment.

Penn National, which operates casinos and slots parlors in several states, plans to open the $225 million Plainridge Park Casino by spring 2015. The facility is expected to feature 1,250 slot machines, restaurants and entertainment space integrated with the existing harness racing track.

When the Gaming Commission reviewed the applications and evaluation criteria during hearings in February, Raynham’s odds of landing the license grew longer as commissioners lauded the Penn National and Cordish Cos. proposals.

“I believe we have two candidates who rose above the third in nearly every category,” commissioner Gayle Cameron said when Raynham Park was eliminated from the running.

Reprinted with permission by Gerry Tuoti for the  www.milforddailynews.com

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