Slots Could Be In Future at Suffolk Downs

September 10, 2015
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A mysterious ballot initiative proposal to add a second slot parlor to an existing Thoroughbred horse track has been certified for the 2016 ballot by Attorney General Maura Healey.

The ballot question is only titled ‘An Act Relative to Expanded Gaming’ and suggests that an additional Category 2 (slot parlor) license be granted to an establishment located on property that is:

  • at least four acres in size.
  • adjacent to and within 1,500 feet of a race track, including the track’s additional facilities, such as the track, grounds, paddocks, barns, auditorium, amphitheatre and bleachers.
  • where a horse racing meeting may physically be held.
  • where a horse racing meeting shall have been hosted.
  • not separated from the race track by a highway or railway.

The very specific language only leaves a few options for the license, which would allow no more than 1,250 slot machines and no table games.

One of the locations most prominently put forward upon certification of the question is, in fact, Suffolk Downs. Other locations include the Brockton Fair, Marshfield, Northampton and, maybe, Great Barrington.

That said, the top talked about location, Suffolk Downs, said this week they had nothing to do with the ballot question.

“We want to be unequivocally clear it’s not us,” said Chip Tuttle, Suffolk Downs COO. “We’re as curious as anyone, especially to the extent that whoever is behind it may think they can take advantage of their proximity to our property. If that’s the case, they haven’t talked to us or asked us our opinion. Politically, it’s a peculiar maneuver and certainly no our style. While not everyone agreed that Suffolk Downs was the best sport for gaming in the Commonwealth, we tried to do everything in a way that was very transparent. Whoever filed this has taken great pains to shield their identity. We’re as curious as everyone.”

An e-mail address filed with the Attorney General’s Office in relation to the ballot initiative lists a Eugene A. McCain. No one at that address responded to inquiries from the Journal.

The AG’s Office certified the 22 petitions, including 20 proposed laws and two proposed constitutional amendments. The AG’s Office did not certify 10 of the initiative petitions because they did not meet the requirements outlined in Article 48 of the Massachusetts Constitution.

Proponents of each certified initiative petition must now gather and file the signatures of 64,750 registered voters by Dec. 2, 2015. Once the requisite signatures are obtained, the proposal is sent to the state Legislature to enact before the first Wednesday in May 2016. If the Legislature fails to enact the proposal, its proponents must gather another 10,792 signatures by early July 2016 to place the initiative on the November 2016 ballot. An initiative petition, if ultimately passed by the voters, becomes a state statute.

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