Simulcasting bill a good bet for Raynham, advocates say

Susan Parkou Weinstein

Approval of a new simulcasting bill in the House and Senate all but assures jobs for Raynham track workers and continued revenue for the town of Raynham from betting dollars.

“It’s great news for the people who work there and great news for the town,” Raynham Selectman Joseph Pacheco, an aide to state Rep. David L. Flynn, said. “It’s a jobs bill, there’s no way around it.”

The legislation allows the Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park and Wonderland Greyhound Park in Revere to stay open and take wagers on out-of-state races after a voter-approved ban on live dog racing takes effect Jan. 1.

Flynn, a Bridgewater Democrat whose district includes Raynham, sees it as a bridge to licensing slot machines as the state’s racetracks, Pacheco said.

Co-sponsored by Flynn and state Rep. James Fagan, D-Taunton, the bill changes the simulcasting law to preclude live racing.

“I would expect Gov. Patrick to sign it,” he said.

The six-month extension gives the Legislature time to debate a variety of expanded gambling measures, including slots and casinos.

Suffolk Downs in Boston and Plainridge Racecourse in Plainville, homes to thoroughbred and harness racing, will also benefit from the extended simulcasting law that was to have expired on Dec. 31.

“This bill ensures that the greyhound tracks will continue to employ hundreds of people who otherwise would have found themselves jobless in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” state Sen. Marc R. Pacheco, D-Taunton, said.

“Ideally, I would have liked to have seen a temporary live racing extension that would have kept all of these people employed until the economy turned around and job market improved,” he said. “It’s safe to say that the holiday season will be a little brighter for hundreds of families statewide as a result of this bill.”

Flynn aide Dan Sullivan said approximately 200-300 workers still employed at the Raynham track will not have to look for jobs in 2010.

The measure was approved just weeks after the Massachusetts Racing Commission rejected the Raynham track’s application for a full racing schedule for 2010.

Park General Manager Gary Temple told commissioners the track had sought the race dates at the request of the workers awaiting court decisions on the 2008 ballot that ended pari-mutuel betting on greyhounds.

Raynham Call