Raynham voters in a special town referendum Tuesday decisively approved an agreement to bring a slot machine parlor to town, making it the first community in the state vying for a slot parlor to approve its mandatory host agreement.
By a vote of 1,822 to 290, voters endorsed the pact forged in June between the town and Raynham Park LLC, which spells out the terms under which Raynham will accept a slot parlor. Turnout for the special town election was about 22 percent, according to the town clerk’s office.
“I think a lot of people are voting their pocketbooks,” said George Carney, whose family operated a dog racing track in Raynham from 1942 until 2010, when greyhound racing was outlawed by the state. “We’re going to guarantee the town over a million dollars a year, and then our real estate tax bill will push it up to about $4 million a year. Right now, with the economy the way it is, I think a lot of people realize that it will help them with their tax bills and will help the town overall.”
Raynham Park’s deal with the town calls for a $1 million fee the first three years of operations, which will then 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.
“We have an obligation to pay the town over and above what the property taxes are going to be," said Tony Ricci, chief executive of Greenwood Racing, which has joined with Carney to pursue the slot parlor license. “We are going to work with the community to make sure the community benefits substantially from our facility.”
Two other companies have already been ruled fit to compete for the license: the Cordish Cos., seeking to build a slot parlor in Leominster, and an affiliate of Rush Street Gaming LLC, which intends to build in Millbury. Both towns will hold referendum votes Sept. 24.
Penn National Gaming is seeking to build a slot parlor in Tewksbury, but has not yet been approved by the Gaming Commission. Last week, casino regulators disqualified Plainridge Racecourse in Plainville from competing for the slot parlor license.
Carney said he thinks his family’s long history in Raynham has built a public trust that contributed to the overwhelming approval of the agreement.
“After being in the town of Raynham for the past 50 years, people understand what the Carney family is all about,” he said. “We’ve always tried to be a good neighbor, always tried to employ people from Raynham if they needed a helping hand.”
The agreement includes a preference to hire qualified residents of Raynham for jobs in construction and operations and offers preference to qualified and competitive vendors based in the town of Raynham.
“I think the community at large sees this as a positive influence on the community,” Selectman Richard Schiavo said. “They’re looking forward to the jobs that will be available, and that is a big plus.”