GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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August 23, 2013

Racing industry not betting on track casinos

BOSTON — The future of horse racing in the commonwealth does not hinge on how the state’s two tracks fare in their bidding for slots or resort casino licenses, Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby said Thursday.

“There’s money from the gambling that’s going to go towards the horse racing industry, basically to the purse accounts,” Crosby told reporters. “It’s a fair amount of money, and as you drive the purse accounts up, you bring in better horses, you get more betting you get more audience.”

The commission also voted Thursday to adopt regulations bringing the state’s racing industry in line with regional standards for enforcement of drugs and steroids.

The purse, or prize money for winning horses, will rise with the new gaming industry, as the state’s slots parlor will contribute 9 percent of its revenue to racehorse development, and 2.5 percent of the 25 percent tax on casino resorts will go towards raising the purse and developing breeding programs.

“That is the virtuous cycle that you’re trying to generate by driving money into the purse accounts,” Crosby said. “So there will be money going into the industry from the casino and slots parlor whether or not there’s a license there.”

The Gaming Commission disqualified Plainridge Racecourse from pursuit of the state’s lone slots license because former track president Gary Piontkowski, the former chairman of the Mass. Racing Commission, was found to have secretly withdrawn money from the track’s money room. The Boston Globe reported Penn National could seek to develop the harness track into a slots parlor.

Suffolk Downs, a thoroughbred track along the Blue Line in East Boston and Revere that has teamed up with Caesar’s Entertainment, is still in the running for the lone casino license in Metro Boston and Worcester.

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