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Racinos Have Been Slow To Take Off In Some States

This article is more than 10 years old.

Supporters of slot parlors at the state's race tracks have argued that "racinos" can provide a jolt of revenue to the state within a year, but that has not always been the case elsewhere.

In Pennsylvania and New York, the first racinos opened more than two years after the laws legalizing them were passed.

David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, said history suggests getting racinos up and running will take more than a year.

"This is not a turnkey operation," he said.

The issue of whether the state's race tracks should be granted the ability to host slots parlors has been a major point of contention between House and Senate leaders trying to craft a gambling compromise.

Rep. David Flynn, D-Bridgewater, whose district includes Raynham Park, said Wednesday he believes the state's race tracks could get slots up and running in 90 days.

Flynn's estimate does not align with the time it has taken racinos in other states to secure licenses from gaming commissions and install slot machines.

Pennsylvania passed a law granting race tracks the right to offer up to 5,000 slots in July 2004. The first track to do so, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs near Scranton, opened its slot machines in November 2006.

Following the law's passage, the state had to establish the Pennsylvania Gaming and Control Board, which was given the power to issue slots licenses. Prior to handing out the licenses, the board conducted background checks on all facilities, including evaluating the finances of the tracks.

New York's law allowing race tracks to offer video lottery terminals was passed in October 2001. It was not until January 2004 that the first racino opened in Saratoga.

"It is quite an undertaking," Jennifer Givner of the New York Lottery said of the licensing review of potential racinos.

However, one gambling executive said racinos could get up and running within a year. Thomas Osiecki, president and general manager of the Tioga Downs racino in Nichols, N.Y., said Massachusetts has the advantage of being able to look at regulatory frameworks in other states for guidance.

"I think a realistic timeframe is a year if the state moves very quickly," Osiecki said.

But Schwartz, the UNLV gambling expert, said setting up a gaming commission, picking regulators and conducting the licensing process can take months.

"There is a lot of paperwork to be done," Schwartz said.

This program aired on July 30, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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