Suffolk Downs celebrates 75 years, looks to casino gambling

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July 10, 2010, 6:07 pm
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(NECN: Alysha Palumbo - East Boston, Mass.) - Seventy-five years after thoroughbreds first kicked up the dirt here at Suffolk Downs in East Boston, the horses and their jockeys are still running the track and attracting a crowd.

Susie Applegate said, "I think it's amazing, I'm glad it's still here actually, I just like the romance of the racetrack, and the history and I hope they can make a go of it and keep it going."

Management hopes the next 75 years will be filled with more than just horse racing. In fact they've already proposed building a resort-style casino here on these grounds.

Chief Operating Officer Chip Tuttle said, "For us it would mean we could ensure the future for the next 75 years, but it would also mean literally thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of new revenue for the Commonwealth."

Suffolk Downs unveiled its proposal this week, as the House and Senate work to resolve the differences between their gaming bills, which could allow for slots at racetracks and up to three casinos in the bay state.

Tuttle says the casino could have as many as five thousand slots, more than 200 card tables, a 400-600 room hotel, and several restaurants and shops.

He says it would create as many as two thousand construction jobs, and another 22-hundred permanent positions.

"We think with a 75 year track record if you will as the Commonwealth's premier gaming destination this would be an ideal location," said Tuttle.

Some racing fans are in favor of the casino proposal.

Lydia Ciccone of Melrose said, "Why not why can't we have something luxurious here for people to come to, they're going to go down there anyway."

Peter Pechulis of Quincy said, "I believe the money from the casinos, a lot of it, will go towards higher purses which will attract higher quality horses."

But other horse racing enthusiasts don't believe gaming and betting should go together.

Horse racing fan John Applegate said, "I'm not so into the casino, I can appreciate it that they need it to make the money and to make it work economically, I'm not a big casino guy and I would like to see horse racing kind of just return on its own."

Tags: Alysha Palumbo, casino, casino gambling, Suffolk Downs
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