Suffolk Downs, long the leading contender for casino development rights in Greater Boston, has submitted its non-refundable $400,000 application fee to the state gambling commission and formally applied for a casino license, the track announced today.

“We begin this formal part of earning a license to develop a world-class destination resort at our 77-year-old racetrack with great enthusiasm and with the understanding that our project must set the standard for gaming development in Massachusetts,” said Richard Fields, Suffolk Downs principal owner, in a statement. “With our partners, Caesars Entertainment, we are committed to a proposal that will create more jobs, tourism benefits and local economic development than any other project in the state.”

The commission began accepting applications on Thursday, nine months after Massachusetts legalized casino gambling.

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The preliminary applications are only the first step of a long review process that will stretch into 2013, but they mark a milestone in the state’s efforts to develop the casino industry in the Bay State. The initial application period will be open for months.

Suffolk Downs in June unveiled its detailed plans for a gambling resort at a track in East Boston and Revere.

Plainridge Racecourse, the harness track in Plainville, on Thursday paid its fee and applied for the single slot parlor license created by the state’s 2011 casino law.