It’s Not Over Until The Fat Lady Sings

It’s not over until the fat lady sings. Well, she is about to enter the green room to warm up. Yesterday I reported on the decision of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to rule out Plainridge Racecourse as a suitable applicant for a slot machine license ( I support the slot machines for a variety of reasons and was very disheartened to read that the Gaming Commission had disqualified Plainridge. However, after reading about the reasons for the decision, I could totally understand why that decision was made.

If the decision stands, the Town of Plainville is the loser in this deal. Plainridge has operated in the town for fifteen years. Plainridge Racecourse is the only harness racing track in operation in Massachusetts. It has not made a profit during its time in Plainville, but has continually been a good neighbor to the town. It has paid taxes to the town and provided employment for a number of people in the town. There is a serious question as to whether or not Plainridge Racecourse will stay in business without the slot machine license. If Plainridge closes, is there a future for harness racing in Massachusetts? What happens to all of the beautiful horse farms in Plainville? So where are we now?

Domenic Longobardi was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time today so I could ask him some questions about the past and future of Plainridge. He expressed disappointment that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission did not try to work with Plainridge to resolve the issue of misdeeds under previous management. He also pointed out that the people involved in those misdeeds are no longer in charge. He reminded me that from the time Plainridge was built the idea was to eventually bring in other avenues of gambling in order to keep the track afloat.

I asked Mr. Longobardi if the 9% of slot machine money that will go to support harness racing would be enough to keep Plainridge alive. He explained that the 9% of slot machine money would go to the harness racing purses–not to operating expenses at the tracks.

Mr. Longobardi mentioned the investment Plainridge has made in order to move forward with the slot machine permit. Plainridge has paid application fees to the Commonwealth of Massachuestts, paid consulting fees for the Town of Plainville, and invested money in a large parking garage to accommodate additional people visiting the facility.

Mr. Longobardi pointed out that although Ourway Realty is disqualified from obtaining the license to operate slot machines at Plainridge Racecourse, the location itself is not disqualified.

A reliable source told me this afternoon that there is another management organization planning to take over Plainridge and resubmit the application to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. That organization is experienced in the gaming industry and would actually be a better candidate to run Plainridge.

The bottom line is simple. It’s not over yet, and smart businessmen are working to find a solution that would meet the requirements of the Gaming Commission and the needs of the people of Plainville. I sincerely hope that something can be worked out.

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One Man’s Actions Result In A Major Loss For A Town

The Attleboro Sun Chronicle reported today that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has removed Plainridge Race Track, Plainville, Massachusetts, from consideration from Massachusetts’ one slot machine license.

The article reports:

It voted unanimously that the owners of the harness track had failed to demonstrate they could properly run a gambling establishment after admitting they did not realize former President Gary Piontkowski had been taking money from the track for years.

The track is now out of the running for the state’s sole slot machine license that had had five suitors.

The actions of one man will cost the Town of Plainville a projected income of $2 million a year.

The article further reports:

“But it has always been our commitment to establish that the integrity of this process is our single highest priority. No other considerations will compromise that commitment. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the tremendous work by the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau as well as our many partners in their ongoing efforts on these important matters.”

The bureau had uncovered the Piontkowski practice of taking money from the track, while the track reported the actions as disbursements.

When the bureau began asking questions, Piontkowski was replaced in April, although he and track officials claimed it was for health reasons.

Chief Financial Officer Timothy Peterson then resigned and did not appear at a commission hearing on the matter.

Principals Stanley Fulton and Alfred Ross said they were unaware of the situation and were passive investors.

Plainridge Race Track has been losing money for years. The slot machines were considered something that would save the track and save harness racing in Massachusetts. It is unfortunate that the actions of one man may result in the death of harness racing in the state.

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