With Slots In Limbo, Racecourse Lays Off Workers

This article is more than 10 years old.

Advocates for expanding gambling in Massachusetts on Tuesday received more ammunition for their claim that enacting gambling legislation and allowing slot machines at racetracks would create jobs.

Plainridge Racecourse in Plainville laid off nearly 160 employees — 10 percent of its workforce. The owners of the track say they had previously hired more than 100 workers as preparation for the possibility of adding slot machines at the harness racing track.

The track also kept other employees that they had planned to lay off during the recession, president Gary Piontkowski said.

"We just held off because we thought, 'OK, we can use these people in our additional expansion,'" Piontkowski said. "But that didn't happen, so after carrying them for a year and a half we've got to make really hard, painful decisions. And we did."

Revenues from live racing and simulcasting other horse races at the racetrack dropped 23 percent over the last three years, according to Piontkowski.

After learning of the Plainridge Racecourse layoffs on Tuesday, Gov. Deval Patrick held firm in his position that slot machines shouldn't be allowed at racetracks.

"Nothing has changed at Plainridge," Patrick said. "So if they're making judgments about the future of that workforce, you've got to ask those questions of Plainridge."

This program aired on August 4, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.