Simulcasting bill shot down on Beacon Hill
Lawmakers have shot down a bill that would have given Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park and Wonderland Park in Revere unlimited and lucrative simulcasting rights.
Instead, the Legislature voted to extend the current law that allows them only part-time rights to air and take bets on horse and dog races around the country.
The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. David Flynn, D-Bridgewater, said the ability to simulcast anytime and from anywhere was critical to the survival of the tracks, especially if voters approve a ballot to end greyhound racing in November.
“This is step number one to keeping them alive,” Flynn said of his proposal last week. Flynn wanted the House to act on his bill by the end of the current legislative session that ended on July 31 and to renew the simulcasting agreement for two years.
Legislators extended the law in the same form for a year.
The owners of the state’s two dog and two horse tracks have been competing for the limited simulcasting dollars as betting on live races continues to plunge.
Although betting dollars are down, Raynham still depends on the track for about $400,000 a year in host community fees, said Selectmen Chairman Joseph Pacheco, who works for Flynn.
He said local departments were asked to cut their budgets by 2 percent this year.
“Any potential loss of revenue is alarming to us,” Pacheco said. “This is only going to make the budget hole deeper.”
If the greyhound racing ban passes, the state racing commission would have to amend its requirements to hold 100 days of live racing a year in order to simulcast.