Suffolk Downs Expects to Close Jan. 1

Suffolk Downs announced on Dec. 30 that it will shut down on Jan. 1, 2007, because of the failure of the Massachusetts Legislature to authorize the continuation of simulcasting at the state's racetracks. As a result, nearly 200 Suffolk employees will be out of work as the new year begins.
   
The bill, though passed by the Senate, was killed in the House of Representatives by David Flynn of Bridgewater, who appeared to be advocating for the Raynham-Taunton dog track which is in his district. The Carney family, which owns Raynham-Taunton, is at odds with Plainridge harness track and owner Gary Piantkowski over the number of signals it is allowed to provide to its customers. For a bill to be passed in informal session, agreement must be unanimous. Thus, Flynn was able to kill the bill by himself.

The legislature will not reconvene until Jan. 2, again in informal session. The state's racetracks were shuttered briefly last April for the same reason until enabling legislation was extended until the end of the year.
   
"This pattern of waiting until enabling legislation expires has got to change," said Suffolk Downs' President John Hall. "The legislature wants the tracks to reach an agreement, but we're not dealing with rational people. The resulting uncertainty and interruption of operation is unwarranted and unfair to our employees and horsemen."

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