BOSTON (CBS/AP) — A Suffolk Downs official says horse racing will be coming to an end at the 79-year-old thoroughbred track as a result of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s decision to award a casino license to Wynn Resorts.
Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer at Suffolk Downs, said in a statement Tuesday that track officials will be meeting with employees and horesmen over the next several days to develop a plan for winding down racing operations.
Mohegan Sun had proposed a resort casino on land owned by Suffolk Downs in Revere. The track had pledged to continue racing for at least 15 years if Mohegan Sun was awarded the license.
The commission on Tuesday voted 3-1 to go with a rival proposal by Wynn in Everett.
Tuttle said Suffolk Downs was “extraordinarily disappointed” with the decision.
The horses have been running at Suffolk Downs for 80 years but Tuttle says without the added income of a casino, he can’t see any way the track can stay in business.
“The track has not been profitable since 2006,” he tells WBZ-TV. “Our ownership has been incredibly generous investing in racing, preserving jobs here keeping the track going with the potential promise of expanded gaming on the property. Without that it’s impossible for us to compete with all the other tracks on the East Coast that have that advantage.”
Jessica Paquette, who has worked with horses at the track since she was an intern about 10 years ago, was among the employees who were disappointed in the news.
“It’s a very tough day for us,” Paquette told WBZ-TV’s Jim Smith.
“I’m very blessed to get to get up every day and come here and do something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid. To think that it might be over, it’s just heart wrenching.”
People who live near the track say it would be hard to imagine no Suffolk Downs.
“They were hanging on by a thread this was the only thread they had, and now it’s gone,” one man said.
“I think it’s horrible for the people that have been there for so many years but on the positive side maybe with the casino coming to Everett those people that are employed at Suffolk Downs maybe they could find employment there,” a woman said.
It’s likely that about 1,000 employees will lose jobs as a result of the decision.
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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