The Massachusetts Gaming Commission disqualified Plainridge Racecourse from consideration for the state’s only slots-parlor license.
The five-member commission, which is vetting applications to run the three casino and one slots parlor licenses under the state’s 2011 law, said in a statement Monday that Plainridge, doing business as Ourway Realty LLC, failed to provide “clear and convincing evidence” that it can run a successful gaming operation.
Massachusetts wants to license a slot parlor by the end of the year and its first casino in 2014. State officials hope to generate roughly $300 million to $500 million in new revenue.
The commission, whose decision followed a lengthy investigation and a July 25 hearing in Boston, cited the practices of former Plainridge head Gary Piontkowski.
“The investigation unearthed a number of practices engaged in by Piontkowski that were deeply troubling,” the ruling said. “There appears to have been a culture of fear and concealment pervasive in the operations of Plainridge. … The most notable problem raised by the [commission’s enforcement] bureau’s investigative report centered on Piontkowski’s withdrawals from the money room.”
Piontkowski abruptly resigned as Ourway president on April 3. John Grogan succeeded him. “Grogan does have an impressive background. Unfortunately, little to none of his experience is in the gaming arena,” the commission ruled.
Plainridge officials would not comment.
Plainridge, a harness-racing track that opened in 1999, is in southeastern Massachusetts about 15 miles from Rhode Island border. According to a study by the Center of Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Massachusetts residents in calendar year 2012 spent $271 million at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I.
The commission, meanwhile, allowed Raynham Park LLC to proceed. Raynham, a former dog racing track and also in southeastern Massachusetts, converted to a simulcast wagering facility after Massachusetts voters banned dog racing in 2008. Raynham, which will move to the next stage of screening, is one of four remaining applicants for the slots license.