BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has disqualified the owners of the Plainridge Racecourse from pursuing the state’s sole slots parlor license.
The commission issued a statement Monday saying Plainridge’s owners failed to present “clear and convincing evidence as to business practices that will likely lead to a successful gaming operation.”
The decision leaves four other slots applicants.
Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby said the decision to disqualify Plainridge — operating under the business name of Ourway Realty LLC — followed a comprehensive background investigation and deliberations by the five-member commission.
The commission said the investigation revealed what it called “a culture of fear and concealment pervasive in the operations” of the Plainville facility.
They said the most notable problem was former Plainridge head Gary Piontkowski’s withdrawals from the money room, which they said were “among a number of practices engaged in by Piontkowski that were deeply troubling.”
“The Commission has determined that Ourway Realty LLC has failed to meet its burden of proof, particularly as to the business practices and the business ability of the applicant to establish and maintain a successful gaming establishment,” the commission’s report said.
A spokesman for Plainridge didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Also Monday, the commission announced it will allow a slots proposal by Raynham Park to move forward.
In June, the Raynham Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a host community agreement with the developer. Under terms of the agreement, the town would receive annual fees for more than $1.1 million.
The agreement must be approved in a town-wide referendum on August 13 to be eligible for the state license.
Raynham Park owner George Carney said he hopes local residents will back the proposal, which he said will being jobs and revenue to the state.
The commission last month voted to qualify Mass Gaming & Entertainment, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming, and PPE Casino Resorts, affiliated with Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. Both companies are also pursuing the slots parlor license.
The approvals followed the criminal and financial background checks required for all slots parlor and casino applicants.
A fourth slots parlor applicant, Penn National, will have a suitability hearing at the end of this month.
The commission said a decision by Plainridge Racecourse to remove Piontkowski and replace him with John Grogan as the president of Ourway on April 3 didn’t go far enough to dispel the commission’s concerns.
The commission said “little to none” of Grogan’s experience is in the gambling arena and improvements he’s claimed to have made to Plainridge “serve neither to entirely neutralize the past transgressions.”
“The burden is on the applicant to demonstrate its suitability; not merely demonstrate that deficiencies are being addressed,” the commission said.
The commission is expected to make a final decision about which applicant will be awarded the single slots license before the end of the year.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.