New Entrants in Boston Casino License Chase

Suffolk Downs now has apparent rivals in pair of major casino development companies.

By Lynne Snierson

There are new starters in the race with odds-on favorite Suffolk Downs to win the sole destination resort casino license designated for the Boston area, according to a published report Nov. 8.

While a senior racetrack official issued no comment when reached by The Blood-Horse, the Boston Herald reported that Mayor Carlo DeMaria of Everett, Mass. has had talks with representatives of two major casino developers and power players, Hard Rock International and Rush Street Gaming.

The Herald reported the discussions involve a 40-acre waterfront site that formerly housed Monsanto Chemical Co., where a destination resort casino and new marina could be constructed. Neither Hard Rock nor Rush Street officials responded to requests for comment.

"I'm excited to see what plans they put forward," DeMaria told the newspaper. He added that Hard Rock officials have already met with the owner of the property and are "serious" about their intentions.

DeMaria also told the Herald he had talks with Rush Street Gaming several months ago but has not heard back from the company, which is reportedly eyeing several Massachusetts sites. As reported, Neil Bluhm heads Rush Street Gaming and its officials met with Massachusetts State Gaming commissioners in recent days, along with other developers.

Under terms of Massachusetts' expanded gambling bill signed into law Nov. 22, 2011, when the casinos become operational horse racing interests are set to receive 9% of revenue from the single stand-alone slots facility, which may be located anywhere in the state. They also will get 2.5% of the state's 25% gross gaming revenue from the three destination resort casinos designated for separate regions, plus 5% of the projected $280 million license fees.

But in Massachusetts, Suffolk Downs is the only facility that conducts live Thoroughbred racing. Suffolk has entered into a strategic agreement with Caesar's Entertainment to construct a world-class facility on the 78-year-old racetrack's grounds. Officials have included live racing in the project if awarded the license. No other developer has expressed any interested in horse racing.