MA Gaming Commission Wants Feedback On New Horse Track Application

Written By Hill Kerby on June 10, 2022
MA gaming commission seeks feedback on a new horse track application

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission met this month to discuss a new application process for prospective horse track operators to obtain a license. Now, the commission seeks feedback on a new horse track application.

Just one horse track is running races in Massachusetts.

The June 2 meeting likely was the first of many steps in the process, with the next being a public hearing July 26. MGC invites any interested parties to participate. The commission has yet to decide whether the event will be in-person or virtual.

Concerns with old application surfaced

In 2021, the MGC received a proposal for a new thoroughbred racetrack in Sturbridge. Though ultimately withdrawn, it revealed numerous concerns. There were several differences between the information that should be provided for an existing track’s renewal application and one for a new venue.

MGC Chief Veterinarian and Director of Racing Alexandra Lightbown and General Counsel Todd Grossman drafted a new application to address those differences.

Some of the proposed changes on the new application are general and some are more specific:

  • Will property include any other attractions in addition to the racetrack?
  • What will grandstands, clubhouse, bleachers and parking look like?
  • How many pari-mutuel ticket windows and kiosks?
  • Size of the track?
  • Number of stables?
  • Simulcast availability?
  • Other accommodations and amenities to be provided on-premises?

Modeling some components after casinos

Lightbown and Grossman also modeled some parts of the new application from the one submitted for casino gaming in Massachusetts. Some of those factors were:

  • An overall construction timeline
  • Traffic studies
  • Total capital investment
  • Financing structure and detailed budget
  • The economic impact of the racetrack

The application also allows for future amendments to a proposal should any details change throughout the post-licensure process. Commissioners also do not need all necessary paperwork to approve a proposal. The project could move forward while requiring the application to be completed later in the process.

Lastly, the application is written to allow the MGC to grant a racing license for the year the facility expects to begin operations rather than for the upcoming season. That way, the facility will not be given a license for a year in which it is constructing a track, only to return and reapply the following year once it is open for business.

Looking ahead

After discussing the document in its entirety, the commission voted unanimously to hold a public hearing.

For now, the application is still a draft, which means all sections are subject to revision. It appears to intend to make the licensing process as transparent and thorough as possible, and any additional concerns that come up would likely be addressed before publishing.

The commission also is encouraging written comments by sending an email to [email protected] with “Horse Track Operator License Draft Application comment” in the subject line. Comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. Monday, July 18.

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