In the Cards

Raynham Park strikes deal with town over slot machine parlor

A slot machine parlor at Raynham Park, the simulcast betting facility and former dog racing track, would pay the town annual fees of more than $1.1 million per year under a negotiated agreement between the developer and town officials, according to a statement from track officials.

The deal was approved 3 to 0 by the town’s Board of Selectmen Tuesday night.

Raynham Park is the first applicant for the state’s sole slot parlor license to complete its mandatory agreement with its host community, spelling out the terms under which the town would accept a slot parlor. The project next must win the endorsement of the voters in a townwide referendum. That vote is expected in mid-August.

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The Raynham project, offered by track owner George Carney and his partner Greenwood Racing, calls for a 175,000-square-foot building, entertainment venue, retail stores, and restaurants on the 125-acre site. Preliminary drawings for the project unveiled in April also showed space for a hotel. More details will be provided before the referendum, Tony Ricci, chief executive of Greenwood Racing Inc., said in a statement.

“Over the next 60 days, we will provide voters with extensive information about this exciting development, which will be a beautiful addition to the social landscape of the town and will provide a significant boost to the local economy,” Ricci said.

The state’s 2011 casino law authorized one slot parlor with up to 1,250 slot machines, along with three resort casinos. Raynham Park — on Route 138 in Raynham, a few minutes off Route 24 and Interstate 495 — is one of four applicants for the slot license, which is expected to be the first license awarded by the state gambling commission later this year.

The other competitors are Plainridge Racecourse, the harness racing track at the junction of Route 1 and 495 in Plainville, and two experienced casino developers that do not have publicly announced sites: Rush Street Gaming and The Cordish Cos. Rush Street, run by Chicago billionaire Neil Bluhm, proposed a slot parlor in Worcester, but was unable to reach a host agreement with city officials. Cordish proposed a slots facility in Boxborough, but was rebuffed by town officials. The developers can try again in other communities.

Raynham Park is just a few minutes away from a site in neighboring Taunton where the Mashpee Wampanoag have proposed a tribal resort casino. Whether the tribe can overcome obstacles to federal approval for a gambling business is unknown.

Meanwhile, the state gambling commission is soliciting applications for a commercial resort casino in southeastern Massachusetts, potentially bringing new competitors to the region.

The track’s agreement with Raynham is far smaller than the first host community agreements for the resort casinos, reflecting the lower investment required of slot applicants and the higher state tax rate.

Under state law, resort casino developers must invest at least $500 million into their projects; several have proposed resorts costing $1 billion or more. The state will receive 25 percent of gambling revenue from the resorts. The initial minimum investment at the slot parlor is much less, $125 million, and the tax rate is nearly double: 49 percent.

Raynham Park’s deal with the town calls for a $1 million fee the first three years of operations, which will then increase slightly each year.

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