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Penn National vows to fight repeal efforts

Penn CEO Timothy Wilmott (left), Jack Shepardson of Plainville, and Penn’s Eric Schippers spoke about the slots deal.
Penn CEO Timothy Wilmott (left), Jack Shepardson of Plainville, and Penn’s Eric Schippers spoke about the slots deal.Debee Tlumacki for the Boston Globe

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Within minutes of officially snagging the state’s first gambling license Friday, Penn National Gaming vowed to vigorously fight efforts to repeal the state casino law, which opponents hope to put to a popular vote in November.

Top executives from Penn, who have extensive experience with ballot campaigns, said Friday they would launch a public campaign if a proposed repeal of the casino law qualifies for the ballot.

“We will defend this,” said Eric Schippers, a senior vice president. “We view it as a simple education campaign to help people understand the jobs that are going to be created, what these facilities will mean in terms of economic development, what they’ll mean in terms of the monies that will be repatriated back to Massachusetts.”

The five-member state gambling commission on Friday formally awarded Penn the first license to be granted under the state casino law, after Penn officials confirmed the company would abide by conditions attached to the license. The unanimous vote came one day after the commission conditionally chose Penn’s $225 million slot proposal at Plainridge Racecourse, in Plainville, as the winning project over rival proposals in Leominster and at Raynham Park, the former dog track.

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