Simulcast Impasse Threatens Massachusetts Tracks

Massachusetts racetracks could shut down Jan. 1 if the state legislature doesn’t approve a bill to extend a law governing simulcasts through November 2007.

The Senate approved an extension the evening of Dec. 28, but the House killed the bill. Lawmakers could revisit the issue Jan. 2, the last day of the session, but simulcasts would end Dec. 31.

Simulcasts from other tracks in the country were suspended in early 2006 after House and Senate negotiators failed to reach a compromise to renew a license extension. They later passed, and Gov. Mitt Romney signed, a bill extending simulcasts through the end of the year.

The owners of the four tracks have struggled to reach an agreement on how many races from other tracks could be shown at their facilities. Lawmakers have said their primary concern is the jobs associated with people who work at the tracks or make their living racing dogs and horses.

The affected tracks are Suffolk Downs; Plainridge Racecourse, a harness track; and two Greyhound facilities, Raynham-Taunton and Wonderland.