PLAINVILLE, Mass. (WWLP) – About a thousand people waiting in long lines poured into Plainridge Park Casino when the doors opened to the public. A mad rush to gamble in Massachusetts. An hour earlier, a ribbon cutting marked the official opening of the first casino ever in the Commonwealth.
The first person to play the slots, Pat Mee from Springfield. “I didn’t expect it, but it’s great,” said Mee.
One thing you notice right away in this casino is nobody’s smoking, not even e-cigarettes, they’re not going to be allowed in any casino in Massachusetts.
“My buddies are going over to Rhode Island cause they smoke, I stopped 8 weeks ago so I like it here, its pretty convenient,” said Braintree’s Joe Simon.
Convenience is a factor. This casino off of I-495 and just a few miles from Patriot Place will be the closest casino to most people in Massachusetts.
“I think more so, Twin River will be our primary competitor, Connecticut far less so”, said Penn National President and CEO Tim Wilmott. He continues, “I think we’re going to have a good 3 year head start before another casino opens in Massachusetts.”
Even for gamblers in western Massachusetts, the 1 hour 20 minute drive is comparable to going to gamble in Connecticut.
“I’m sure we will come here, but we’ll probably still go to the other ones, this is great I love it here and it’s the same distance,” said Mee.
So what does this all mean for us? Penn National has already paid the state $25 million for a gaming license and they expect to pay back to Masssachusetts $100 million this year alone in taxes.
Penn National Gaming was awarded the state’s only slot license. They are the owners of Plainridge Park Casino, which also hosts harness racing. Penn National added 500 jobs for their casino and saved 100 existing jobs at the harness track. Penn National originally fought for a gaming license in Springfield, but city leaders choose MGM.