A slot machine parlor at Raynham Park, the simulcast betting facility and former dog racing track, would pay the town annual fees of more than $1.1 million per year under a negotiated agreement between the developer and town officials, according to a statement from track officials.
The town’s Board of Selectmen is expected to consider the deal tonight and could vote to approve it.
Raynham Park is the first applicant for the state’s sole slot parlor license to complete its mandatory agreement with its host community, spelling out the terms under which Raynham would accept a slot parlor. The project next must win the endorsement of the voters in a town-wide referendum. That vote is expected is mid-August.
The Raynham project, offered by track owner George Carney and his partner Greenwood Racing, calls for a new, 175,000-square-foot building, entertainment venue, retail stores and restaurants on the 125-acre site. Preliminary drawings for the project unveiled in April also showed space for a hotel. More details on the project will be provided before the referendum, said Tony Ricci, CEO of Greenwood Racing Inc., in a statement.
“Over the next 60 days, we will provide voters with extensive information about this exciting development, which will be a beautiful addition to the social landscape of the town and will provide a significant boost to the local economy,” Ricci said.
The state’s 2011 casino law authorized one slot parlor with up to 1,250 slot machines, along with three resort casinos. Raynham Park, on Route 138 in Raynham, a few minutes off Route 24 and Interstate 495, is one of four applicants for the slot license, which is expected to be the first license awarded by the state gambling commission later this year.
The other competitors are Plainridge Racecourse, the harness racing track at the junction of Route 1 and 495 in Plainville, and two experienced casino developers that currently do not have publicly announced sites: Rush Street Gaming and The Cordish Companies. Rush Street, run by Chicago billionaire Neil Bluhm, proposed a slot parlor in Worcester but was unable to reach a host agreement with city officials. Cordish proposed a slots facility in Boxborough, but was rebuffed by town officials. The developers can try again in new communities.
Raynham Park is just a few minutes from a site in neighboring Taunton where the Mashpee Wampanoag have proposed a tribal resort casino. Whether the tribe can overcome obstacles to federal approval for a gambling business is unknown. Meanwhile, the state gambling commission is soliciting applications in southeastern Massachusetts for a commercial resort casino, potentially bringing new competitors to the region.
The track’s agreement with Raynham is far smaller than the first host community agreements for the resort casinos, reflecting the lower investment required of slot applicants, and the higher state tax rate.
Under state law, resort casino developers must invest at least $500 million into their projects; several have proposed resorts costing $1 billion or more. The state will receive 25 percent of gambling revenue from the resorts. The initial minimum investment at the slot parlor is much less — $125 million — and the tax rate is nearly double: 49 percent.
Raynham Park’s deal with the town calls for a $1 million fee the first three years of operations, which then will increase slightly each year. Raynham Park will also pay a $100,000 annual “capital costs enhancement fee,” and contribute $15,000 per year to the Route 138 Business Façade improvement program, according to the developer. Raynham Park would also pay additional real estate taxes assessed on the development.
The agreement also includes a preference to hire qualified citizens of Raynham for jobs in construction and operations, and offers preference to qualified and competitive vendors based in the town of Raynham. The track will conduct a traffic study at the junction of Old North Main Street and Elm and perform additional traffic and water and sewer studies as recommended by the town’s planning consultant. Raynham Park will be responsible for the costs of the studies and any required improvements.