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Plainville slots parlor is first under gambling law

Four years after the state legalized Las Vegas-style casino gambling, the first slots parlor will open in June, launching an era that officials hope creates thousands of jobs and raises hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue for the state.

At noon on June 24, Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville will throw open its doors to what casino executives expect to be throngs of patrons eager to get inside and try their luck on 1,250 slot machines beckoning with flashing lights and pulsating music.

Lance George, the Plainridge general manager, said there are no plans to close the doors ever again: Like most casinos, it will operate 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.

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“This opening introduces a new industry to the state and marks the beginning of a new era for Massachusetts,” George said in an interview last week. “There are sure to be growing pains, but it’s very exciting.”

George said the company is rushing to finish construction on the $225 million facility, with more than 300 construction workers on a day shift and 50 more on a second shift.

The casino complex is located on a 90-acre site about 35 miles southwest of Boston and 18 miles north of Providence.

Plainridge Park Casino is built on the site of the Plainridge Racecourse, which will continue offering harness horse racing.

The facility includes 100,000 square feet of gambling, racing, dining, live entertainment, and retail space, plus a parking garage. Among the restaurants is Flutie’s Sports Pub, developed by the former Boston College and New England Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie.

So far, Plainridge has received more than 4,000 applications for approximately 375 full-time jobs and 125 part-time positions, George said.

“We’re putting a lot of people to work,” he said, adding that the company has made 40 hires to date, with another 160 employees expected to come on board by May and the rest by opening day. All of the positions come with benefits, including health care insurance and retirement plans, he said.

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The facility’s gross gambling revenues are expected to be $250 million a year, of which the state will take 40 percent, a $100 million windfall. Another 9 percent is required to be put in a special fund to support the horse racing industry.

Penn National, which operates more than two dozen casinos, paid $25 million for the state’s single slots parlor license and agreed to spend another $4 million to improve nearby roads. Penn National was one of three bidders for the license and was chosen by the state Gaming Commission over rival proposals for facilities in Leominster and Raynham.

Besides the slots parlor, the state casino law approved by the Legislature and signed by former governor Deval Patrick in 2011 authorized three full-scale resort casinos, complete with hotels and table games including blackjack and roulette.

Patrick and others pushed for casinos as a way to create jobs and revenue.

The law divided the state into three regions, with one casino to be permitted in each.

In the Western Massachusetts region, MGM Resorts plans to break ground Tuesday on a 14.5-acre, $800 million casino complex in Springfield’s South End. It hopes to open the facility in 2017.

Wynn Resorts won the Greater Boston license for a $1.75 billion casino on the waterfront in the city of Everett. The projected opening date is late 2017 or 2018.

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A third license, for Southeastern Massachusetts, is still up for grabs, with competing proposals for Brockton, New Bedford, and Somerset under consideration.

“I think people in Massachusetts are ready for this,” George said of the casino industry. “I am confident they will come out to our new facility.”


Sean P. Murphy can be reached at smurphy@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @spmurphyboston.