Work continues at Plainridge, despite SJC ruling - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

Work continues at Plainridge, despite SJC ruling

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Instead of hearing gamblers cheering on the ponies, the sound of construction work echoes at Plainridge Racecourse in Plainville.

Workers are building Massachusetts's first slot parlor, Plainridge Park Casino.

The license means General Manager Stephen O'Toole and other employees get to keep their jobs and welcome hundreds more employees.

On Tuesday, he learned the slot parlor plans could be in jeopardy.

The Supreme Judicial Court decided to let Massachusetts voters decide whether they want to repeal the law letting the state award three casino licenses and one slot parlor license.

The ruling overturned Attorney General Martha Coakley's finding that the proposed ballot question is unconstitutional because it would cause casino developers to lose property without compensation.

The question will be on the ballot this November.

"There's jobs, there's revenue and there's some devastation at the end of the line if this doesn't come through," O'Toole said.

Not everyone opposes the SJC's decision.

"I wasn't really happy when they licensed Plainridge. So it wouldn't really bother me," said Michelle, a resident of Plainville.

But it does bother Plainville Town Administrator Joe Fernandes. He told NBC 10 News that town voters overwhelmingly backed the slot parlor plan.

Fernandes said he doesn't think people in other communities should overturn that decision.

"We're confident that the voters will weigh the benefits to the state and not dismiss them," O'Toole said.

The company has already given the state of Massachusetts $25 million for its license. Not to mention it's paid the town of Plainville more than $200,000 to build.

The town said its money is nonrefundable. It's not clear if the state would refund the license fee.

O'Toole said construction will continue.

"We fought very hard to win the license," O'Toole said. "I don't think they'll take it lying down."

If the Plainridge Park Casino does open, it would be Twin River's closest competition.

The state gambling commission recently granted MGM Resorts International a license for a proposed $800 million casino in Springfield. The two remaining casino licenses have not yet been awarded.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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