Suffolk Recommended for 2014 Racing License
by Tom LaMarra
Date Posted: 11/7/2013 2:51:02 PM
Last Updated: 11/8/2013 9:30:16 AM

Photo: Chip Bott

Suffolk Downs received a recommendation that its request for 100 days of racing be approved for 2014, but a track official said there are "variables" that could complicate matters.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission Department of Racing recommended approval of the Suffolk Downs application for live racing and full-card simulcasts. The full MGC, during a Nov. 7 meeting, took the recommendation under advisement and will render a decision later this year.

Suffolk Downs officials are hoping to win the Boston-area license to build a destination resort casino. Though track ownership has passed a suitability examination, they need a new casino developer and, on Nov. 5, ended up with a split vote in the two communities in which the track is located.

East Boston, which has 100 acres of the track, voted against casino gambling at Suffolk Downs, but Revere, where 50 acres including the barn area is located, voted to approve the ballot measure. Suffolk Downs is now exploring moving the casino part of the development across the border to Revere.

"It is our intent to operate a racetrack," Suffolk Downs chief operating officer Chip Tuttle said. "We hope to operate next year. There are several variables, but we are here to express our intent to conduct a race meet (in 2014). We are committed to trying to continue our racing operation as much as possible."

Tuttle's comments came in response to a question from the MGC about whether live racing at Suffolk Downs is solely tied to the company receiving a casino license. Commissioners said they want to give Suffolk Downs as much flexibility as possible, but they also noted the precarious nature of the situation.

Tuttle said no decision would be made on the fly.

"We take very seriously our responsibility to the people who work at our facility," Tuttle said. "We will not take any action without seeking the appropriate guidance of this commission."

The dates request calls for racing from June 2 to Nov. 29. Just days before the Nov. 5 vote, track officials announced plans to spend about $40 million on upgrades to the racing facility and barn area as part of the overall casino development.



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