Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Spending the Day at the Track

I'm hoping to win some treasure!

"Millions in casino revenue earmarked for horse racing" by Sean P. Murphy Globe Staff  June 10, 2015

The first slot machine has yet to be played in Massachusetts, but already a huge amount of casino money is sloshing around in a special fund set up by the Legislature to prop up a sport that has all but disappeared in the state: horse racing.

I hate to know how much is $loshing around, especially given the $2 billion hole in the budget that just got filled.

Suffolk Downs, the only thoroughbred horse track remaining in New England, is certain to close as gamblers have steadily turned to other forms of legalized wagering and the track’s owners have grown tired of absorbing millions of dollars in annual losses.

Even so, thoroughbred racing — basically homeless and unable to support itself — now has more money than it knows what to do with, thanks to the political deal struck four years ago that opened Massachusetts to casinos.

They must be part of that cla$$ of people then.

In all, the thoroughbred horse racing industry is projected to receive about $18 million a year from casinos, earmarked to support races that may never come to pass, trainers of horses that may never run, and jockeys who may never ride them.

“Casinos are supposed to benefit the entire state, not just certain segments,” state Senator James B. Eldridge, an Acton Democrat, said last week. 

Yeah, but if you didn't for it the speaker will punish you. Take away parking privileges and committee assignments.

He said the state casino law should be amended to put the money now designated for the horse racing industry to better use.

I was wondering if there was a better use, but that move will go nowhere (keep reading).

Already, a $5 million slice of the $195 million paid by casino developers to the state in licensing fees is tied up in a fund with no apparent legal way to spend it. But that is only the first chunk of cash with an uncertain use, absent a stunning reversal in horse racing’s popularity. 

It's what used to be known as a SLUSH FUND!

When the state’s first casino opens on June 24, it will begin funneling almost $15 million a year into the same fund, according to current projections. And when the state’s three resort casinos come on line in the next few years, they will bump up the total contribution to about $18 million a year, according to current projections.

Governor Charlie Baker said through a spokesman that his administration is committed to “closely reviewing and monitoring” how well the casino law works for possible improvements.

The mastermind of this casino-fueled boon for horse racing is House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo.


While proponents of casinos were selling the idea as a way to create jobs and tax revenue for the state, DeLeo, who has deep personal and political connections to horse racing, insisted on the stipulation that tens of millions of dollars in future casino tax revenues go to support an industry that now employs fewer than 2,000 workers.

Why do we have to be "sold" what is in our best interests we're told? Because it's not?

DeLeo’s father was maitre d’ at Suffolk Downs, and his legislative district of Winthrop and parts of Revere includes a portion of Suffolk Downs and is home to many of its workers.

Before the law was passed in 2011, DeLeo sought to justify the subsidy as a means of preserving jobs not only for horse owners, trainers and jockeys, but also for veterinarians, hay farmers, feed suppliers, blacksmiths, and others who support racing.

I'm sorry, you are not.

“If we can give those people a boost with some additional income, those horses will stay here in Massachusetts and the people at those tracks will keep those facilities going,” DeLeo said in support of the pending bill.

But it’s hard to imagine how the arrival of casinos will spur a rebound in horse racing. As legalized Las Vegas-styled gambling has proliferated from two states to 39 states in recent years, the amount of betting at Suffolk Downs — the truest measure of a track’s success — has plummeted by almost one-third. So, too, has the number of horses available to race there. And attendance has become so anemic that it is not even counted.

Nothing like throwing good money down a rat hole. Massachusetts legislature does it best!

What's next, investment in buggy whips?

The phenomenon is by no means limited to Massachusetts: Few new tracks have opened to thoroughbred racing in the United States in the last 25 years, and many of the country’s best-known tracks date to the 1930s or earlier.

Younger people don’t like the track because it’s not as exciting as casinos,” said Denis P. Rudd, a Robert Morris University professor who has studied the gambling industry. “You can play a slot machine every second, but you can bet on a horse race only every 20 minutes.”

And they don't have a lot of spare cash given the job and student debt situations..... right?

The Suffolk Downs owners insist that they are done with racing. They are busy considering how best to develop the 160-acre site for a different use. But in the meantime, they are going along with a plan to hold one day of racing per month in July, August, and September, as a sort of last hurrah for an 80-year-old track that once drew crowds of up to 40,000 fans. During its heyday, Suffolk Downs featured daily racing five months a year.

DeLeo, asked last week about the generous funding of the horse racing industry, said the possibility of three days of thoroughbred racing in 2015 made it “premature to consider altering” the funding formula.

Some vestiges of the horse racing industry live on in Massachusetts. A far less popular form of the sport features a driver in a little buggy being pulled along by a horse. But harness racing has lost almost half of its market in recent years.

The state’s sole harness racing track is now owned by the state’s slot parlor, Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, which is set to make history later this month when it introduces casino gambling in the state. In a way, the Plainridge casino operator will be paying itself by turning over a portion of its slot machine earnings to the state in taxes, only to have the state return it to the Plainridge track operator as a subsidy.

You wanna bet on how many government hacks will be needed for that? More taxpayer-supported $pinning wheels!

Under the casino law, the harness track stands to receive $6 million a year when all four casinos are open, significantly less than is intended for thoroughbred racing.

If horse racing becomes extinct in Massachusetts, the money reserved for it under the casino law can accumulate in an escrow account for up to three years. After that, how to spend what could be tens of millions of dollars is quite uncertain, according to the state Gaming Commission, which has control over the escrow account.

Oh, look, government just "found" a pile of money! That always works out great!

“The resolution to that would depend on any number of currently unknown variables,” the commission said in a statement.

It's a gamble!


Now what to do with the winnings:

"Horse owners, breeders, trainers disagree on racing money" by Sean P. Murphy Globe Staff  June 11, 2015

The thoroughbred horse racing industry is flush with millions of dollars in new casino money, but a hearing on Thursday before the state Gaming Commission proved there is little agreement among horse owners, breeders, trainers, and others on how to use it.

One faction wants to use about $1.2 million in casino money to help fund three days of racing at Suffolk Downs, on one day a month in July, August, and September. That would represent a mere fraction of the usual 80 days or more of racing at the East Boston facility.

Anthony Spadea, the president of a group of horse owners and trainers, told commission members and a standing-room-only audience at the Boston Convention Center & Exhibition Center that the proposal for three days of racing was intended to gain the support of state legislators by impressing them with the size of the crowds expected to show up for those few days of racing.

I hope the $1.2 million is worth the mind-manipulating public relations party!

With the support of the state government, and with millions of dollars in an annual subsidy from casinos, thoroughbred horse racing could shift from Suffolk Downs to a new track at a new site, Spadea said.

Suffolk Downs’ owners say the track will close to racing, although they are willing to host the three days of racing proposed for this summer as they develop new plans for the 160-acre site.

But opponents of the proposed three-day racing season said spending $1.2 million in casino money is too high a price for what they said would be a very low return on investment to horse trainers and others.

Under the plan for a three-day racing season, the casino money would pay for especially large prizes to the owners, trainers, and jockeys of winning horses — about $500,000 for each day of racing, compared to about $100,000 for each day of racing in 2014.

Horse trainer Billy Lagoria and others said those prizes would be good for Suffolk Downs, which would earn some income in the shortened season, but bad for most owners and trainers. That is because such lucrative prizes would prompt out-of-state owners to bring their better, more expensive horses to Suffolk Downs and supplant the local talent.

Lagorio said a better approach was to forgo racing this year, let the casino money accumulate, and plan for a full season in 2016 at some new, temporary location. He said the industry needs to attract an investor to build a new track “years down the road.”

“Let’s spend the money smartly,” he said.

Horse racing has been fading as a sport for decades, accelerated by the proliferation of legalized Las Vegas-styled casinos, including in Massachusetts, where the casino era begins June 24 with the opening of Plainridge Park Casino.

Still, the 2011 casino law earmarks tens of millions of dollars in casino revenue for support of horse racing. So far, a slice of casino licensing fees has gone to support horse racing, with a sizable percentage of casino revenues to follow on an ongoing basis.

Gaming Commission members will vote on whether to approve the three-day racing season within a month.

Also on Thursday, Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby, who is the subject of a state Ethics Commission conflict of interest inquiry, said he did nothing wrong and that he was cooperating with the probe. He spoke during a break in the commission meeting, in which he also received statements of support from fellow commissioners James McHugh and Enrique Zuniga.

The Ethics Commission is looking into whether Crosby continued to be involved in the process of selecting Wynn Resorts for the coveted Greater Boston resort casino licence in 2014, despite having recused himself because of his longtime relationship with one of the owners of the land where Wynn Resorts intended to build its casino. The commission eventually voted to award the casino license to Wynn Resorts, selecting that proposal over one for Suffolk Downs, without Crosby participating in the vote. 

Didn't they clear all that up?


Maybe Massachusetts can field it's own Triple Crown winner.

Wanna go inside and play some slots?

"Plainridge Park launches state’s casino era Wednesday; In a first for state, slot parlor to open in Plainville" by Sean P. Murphy and Nestor Ramos Globe Staff  June 22, 2015

It's a new era in Ma$$achu$etts.

PLAINVILLE — Gleaming glass and steel doors will slide open onto Massachusetts’ first casino floor this week, revealing a shining sea of high-tech slot machines, a sleek sports bar named for a football hero — and a glimpse of the future, for better or worse.

Plainridge Park Casino’s public opening Wednesday afternoon follows decades of deliberation and makes Massachusetts, known for its progressive present and Puritan past, the 40th state to take a chance on casino-style gambling. Whether the state’s late bid can persuade gamblers to cancel their trips to Rhode Island and Connecticut, and instead sink their quarters into their home-state coffers, will help determine whether the Legislature’s grand gamble will pay off.

“This is as big a change in the cultural, social, and economic face of Massachusetts as I have seen in almost 50 years,” said Stephen P. Crosby, chairman of the state Gaming Commission, which oversees casinos. “It’s creating new jobs, state revenue, and economic development.” Yup.

The allure of the beckoning slot machines — branded with everything from scantily clad cartoon characters to daytime talker Ellen DeGeneres — will be accompanied by some of the strictest regulations in the country aimed at reducing compulsive gambling.

Those measures could keep some players away, but Plainridge is playing for high stakes. The casino aims to make nearly twice as much money on each of its 1,500 slot and video blackjack machines as its Connecticut competitors, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun — directing as much as $250 million in revenue to the state in its first two years. Most of that money is pledged to cities and towns, for such expenses as police, firefighter, and teacher salaries, while tens of millions of dollars will come off the top to support the horse racing industry.

Yeah, the casinos are going to save our towns and cities.

Related: State Getting Cut of Your Casino Pot 

They are right at the table with you.

Plainridge was built to keep gamblers closer to home. Roughly half the gamblers at Twin River Casino, only 20 minutes away over the border in Rhode Island, come from Massachusetts, and one-third of the cars in the parking lots of the two resort casinos in Connecticut are from the Bay State as well.

Still, industry watchers wonder whether the shiny new slot parlor in the state’s southeastern woods — about 35 miles southwest of Boston and 18 miles north of Providence — can rake in enough money to thrive under a tax burden substantially higher than in Las Vegas and among competitors offering true Vegas-style table games nearby.

To lure customers, Plainridge has installed the most technologically advanced slot machines in a high-ceilinged hall appointed more like a big-time Vegas casino than a stereotypical smoke-filled slot parlor.

Gone are the buckets of quarters and stacks of chips, replaced by touchscreens and the magnetic stripes on player loyalty cards that offer free play to first-time visitors. Few of the splashy new slots carry the old-time levers gamblers once used to test their luck.

Instead of blackjack dealers turning cards and taking tips — table games weren’t permitted at Plainridge under the state agreement — doe-eyed digital women in low-cut tops smile from the screens of computerized multiplayer card tables. The roulette machine spits a real ball into a spinning enclosed chamber, and an invisible hand rakes away the virtual chips.

Hey, the money never really existed. I hate to say it, but it all seems so ob$cene to me.

Plainridge officials say they hope to collect almost $500 a day on each slot machine within 12 months of opening.

That's all?

“It’s aggressive, but there’s precedent for it,” said Lance George, Plainridge general manager. “We are cautiously optimistic that we will make it.”

So are all gamblers.

Others aren’t betting on it.

“I don’t see Plainridge getting that kind of money,” said Paul L. DeBole, assistant professor of political science at Lasell College and a specialist on gambling regulation. “Almost twice what Foxwoods does on its machines? I don’t think so.”

There is always a guy like that at the table.

To meet its goals, Plainridge is heavily promoting its loyalty rewards card, which allows gamblers to earn points for drinks, meals, or free play at its machines.

Natasha Dow Schull, an associate professor at MIT and the author of a book that argues slot machines are designed to be addictive, said giving patrons free play is an important marketing strategy to “prime the pump.”

“It’s a way to hook people in,” she said.

At a kiosk tucked away near the parking garage elevators, live advisers will be available 16 hours a day to counsel problem gamblers who come asking for help, the first program of its kind in the country. Plainridge will maintain a list of gamblers who decide to exclude themselves from the casino, whether for six months or forever.

And by September, the casino will have in place a system that will allow gamblers to set a limit on their spending on any session, and to get an electronic reminder when they have hit that limit, another first in the country.

Plainridge’s premiere on Wednesday marks the culmination of 25 years of political debate, triggered by the opening in the early 1990s of two wildly successful casinos that lured Bay State gamblers across the Connecticut border.

That aren't as successful now, and as the wealth inequality gap yawns wider there is less disposable cash for the suckers going to the casino. Thank God for addiction.

The Legislature wrestled with expanding gambling for years, but casino bills were routinely thwartedfirst by socially conservative leaders and then because of a philosophical dispute between House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Governor Deval Patrick. 

They are the ones who pushed it through (it's why Sal DiMasi and to be dumped; he stood in the way of it).

Patrick called for building three high-end gambling palaces with all the trappings of those in Las Vegas. DeLeo, intent on saving the state’s fading racing industry, insisted on including a license for a slot parlor that the race tracks could seek to win.

Patrick ultimately signed legislation in November 2011, but even then — as the regulatory process dragged on — casino gambling seemed threatened in Massachusetts as recently as last year, when opponents succeeded in getting a repeal question on the ballot.

In the end, that failed by a large margin, paving the way for the resort casinos Patrick envisioned to open in Springfield and Everett in the coming years.

Plainridge was the price Patrick paid. 

Patrick paid a price, right. A price we are all paying for his ruinous eight years of neglect.

But the state’s first gambling complex — technically a slot parlor — looks little like the grim gambling barns that term evokes. It features an upscale restaurant and a Doug Flutie sports pub where Flutie’s 1984 Heisman trophy will glitter behind a glass case....


"First Mass. casino gets high marks during trial run" by Sean P. Murphy Globe Staff  June 22, 2015

PLAINVILLE — Mike Umbruglia may be the first person to lose $100 in one pull of the lever of a high-stakes slot machine at a Massachusetts casino, but he is not complaining.

Umbruglia and three buddies arrived at Plainridge Park Casino, the state’s first casino, just as the doors opened on Monday.

They were among several thousand people invited by the casino operator to play for real as a test of the casino’s equipment and protocols two days before its scheduled opening to the public on Wednesday, but fresh off an early-morning round of golf and lunch at the casino’s fancy seafood restaurant, Umbruglia described his slot loss as one little blip in an otherwise fun day out with the boys.

I'm sure a lot of wives will love reading that.

Umbruglia was one of the hundreds of construction contractors who worked on the $225 million facility who were invited. Others included regular gamblers at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, the two Connecticut casinos, whose names appear on gambling databases. On Monday evening, about 1,000 “high-rollers” were expected to run the facility through its paces again during a four-hour, by-invitation-only session.

The state Gaming Commission discovered that a door that was supposed to be locked for security reasons was open, said Gayle Cameron, a commission member. And the crew operating the hidden surveillance cameras seemed less-than seamless when switching from camera to camera to keep watch on an individual walking through the casino, she said.

“Little things, mostly, that can be resolved,” she said of the dress rehearsal.

On Tuesday, Plainridge will be tested again, though this time without players involved. The focus will be on the handling of money, as casino employees empty cash boxes from the machines, take them to the cash room, then balance the day’s receipts.

“It all has to reconcile,” Cameron said....


Apparently, "not everyone was thrilled" and I’m now  “home.” All that is left to do is count my winnings.

"Gambling survey pegs problem and at-risk gambling in state at less than 10 percent" by Sean P. Murphy Globe Staff  June 11, 2015

Men are three times more likely to have a gambling problem than women, black people are four times more likely to have a gambling problem than white people, and people whose education ended with a high school diploma are more likely to have a gambling problem than college graduates.

These are the findings of a survey of almost 10,000 Massachusetts residents, which is slated to be released Thursday, less than two weeks before the state’s first casino opens.

The study, conducted by the University of Massachusetts School of Public Health and Health Sciences, found that about 10 percent of adults in Massachusetts are now “at-risk” or “problem” gamblers — about the same as other states.

The survey also found that at-risk and problem gamblers in Massachusetts are “significantly more likely” than other gamblers to be unemployed and to have annual household incomes of less than $15,000.

Touted as the “largest problem gambling survey ever conducted” in the country, the survey was mandated under the 2011 casino law that legalizes up to four casinos in the state. It will serve as a “baseline” against which to measure possible changes in the prevalence of problem gambling — up or down — as slot machines and tables games become much more accessible to state residents.

The survey also found that 59 percent of residents perceive the impact of casino gambling in Massachusetts to be neutral, beneficial, or very beneficial, while 41 percent considered it somewhat or very harmful — findings similar to the results of the 2014 referendum that upheld the casino law.

The survey found that about one-quarter of the population do not gamble; 40 percent gamble yearly; 20 percent gamble monthly; and 15 percent gamble weekly. It also found that 59 percent of the population buy lottery tickets; 22 percent go to casinos; and 3 percent bet on horse racing.

At-risk gamblers are defined as those “persistently betting more than planned, spending more time gambling than intended, chasing losses and borrowing money to gamble.” Problem gamblers are defined as those experiencing “significant impaired control over their gambling and negative consequences as a result.”

Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, said more research was needed to explain the disproportionate number of black and poor people among at-risk and problem gamblers.

“What is known is the outcome,” he said. “A middle-class person may go on a binge and lose $2,000, but can afford it from savings, whereas the poor person who loses his money is devastated.”

Rachel Volberg, the principal investigator for the survey, said the research, combined with surveys planned for the future, will be used to shape programs to treat and prevent problem gambling.

“What’s exciting is to see how the state uses the data,” she said. 

It will be almost as thrilling as the gambling itself!


I wonder how they will be using the promised windfall:

"Gaming panel leader sees $400m windfall for Mass.; Stephen Crosby predicts state will gain 10,000 jobs" by Sean P. Murphy Globe Staff  June 23, 2015

Speaking on the eve of the opening of the first casino in Massachusetts, state Gaming Commission chairman Stephen P. Crosby on Tuesday morning highlighted his agency’s role in bringing what he said would be as much as $400 million a year to the state in new tax revenue while creating 10,000 new jobs.

They always claim the pot will be larger than it actually becomes.

Crosby, addressing the Boston Chamber of Commerce on the day before the scheduled opening of Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, said there are legitimate concerns that casinos increase debilitating gambling addiction and crime.

I wonder how many chips they have.

But now that casinos have been widely approved by voters, the gambling commission is moving swiftly to maximize their benefits while minimizing the harm, he said.

Massachusetts is hardly an innocent when it comes to gambling: Its residents annually spend $5 billion on the state lottery, $10 billion in casinos in Connecticut and elsewhere, and $5 billion on online gambling sites, horse racing, bingo, and illegal wagering, he said.

Maybe you would be better off playing a scratch ticket.

“We are already heavy gamblers in Massachusetts,” he said. “Opening casinos in Massachusetts will not be a change in order of magnitude in gambling.”

Yeah, let's keep preying on their addictions and enabling their compulsion.


Crosby said there probably will be an increase in compulsive gambling, but not to the extent that might have been expected if many state residents were not already robust gamblers at places like Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.

What about all the young people coming of age who might not have traveled out of state, but just across the town line.... ?????

For years, while Massachusetts went without casinos, the state in effect exported tax revenue dollars to Connecticut while importing the social ills that come with gambling, he said.

“That is going to change, beginning tomorrow” when Massachusetts gamblers begin to stay in their home state to gamble, Crosby said. “We will hurt the Connecticut casinos badly.”

He also threatened Atlantic City.

Crosby said the state is launching several first-of-their-kind approaches to curb compulsive gambling, including having people available at casinos to counsel anyone on problem gambling issues.

Crosby, who until last week was the subject of a State Ethics Commission conflict-of-interest inquiry, made several indirect references to accusations against him in “the many twists and turns” in the commission’s years-old process of evaluating competing proposals for the limited number of casino licenses.


Mass. gambling panel chief faces ethics inquiry
Ethics complaint against gambling chairman dismissed
Bill Cosby’s lawyers want defamation suit tossed

I wouldn't bet on it.

“Some of the challenges to the commission have been made in good faith, some sour grapes,” he said.

I know what he means.

In a lawsuit filed on behalf of the city, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh has called for Crosby’s removal from the commission....

Oh, look who turned up the big lo$er!


It's post time

I may be back later tonight, readers -- unless I win, of course!


"Gamblers throng to opening day at Plainridge casino" by Sean P. Murphy Globe Staff  June 24, 2015

PLAINVILLE — Gamblers and dreamers thronged to the Plainridge Park Casino to share in a moment in Massachusetts history.

The era of legal, Las Vegas-style gaming dawned in the state Wednesday, and within an hour after opening, throngs swarmed into every corner of the gleaming new slot parlor and set all 1,250 machines ringing at once.

“This is what it feels like to be a celebrity,” said Ed Beauregard, a 74-year-old retiree from Northbridge, after he and his wife, Nancy, were cheered by casino employees on their way in.

Many more chose to skip a sunny summer day to gamble indoors, and the sensational turnout was a welcome sign for Plainridge.


“As of today, we have to be considered the major player in the New England casino industry,” said Jay Ash, who, as secretary of housing and economic development, represented the Baker administration at the grand opening. “We want to keep our gambling money home.”

Dave Reilly, 66, who arrived from Lowell with his wife Linda, is just the kind of guy Plainridge is looking for. Reilly said he would rather gamble — and lose his money — in his home state rather than taking the couple’s usual trips to Twin River in Rhode Island.

Doesn't matter; it's going to one of a handful of "gaming" conglomerates.

As for the odds he faces as a gambler, Reilly said, “We don’t do it for a living.”

“Good thing,” added his wife.

Reilly was also one of those who struggled to find a place to play in the afternoon, when crowds briefly tested Plainridge’s ability to serve them as long lines formed at the food court, the cash-out machines, and some bathrooms.

Plainville Police Chief Jim Alfred said traffic on Route 1 outside the casino was backed up for about a half-mile in both directions and on the exit ramps from Interstate 495 to Route 1. “We assume it’s going to be like this through the weekend,” he said.

The parlor’s managers focused on the bigger picture.

“It’s been a fabulous success,” said Lance George, the facility’s general manager. He said he expected to exceed his goal of 10,000 people in the first 12 hours of operation.

“A lot of us have put a lot of work in getting this place ready,” said Ray Fuller, a purchasing manager who came upstairs from his office cubicle to witness history.

“We are proud and happy for all this,” he said.

In a state that traces its history to Puritan settlers who practiced a faith that looked askance at worldly pleasures, Plainridge represents a stark cultural break. As hundreds gambled, show girls in elaborate costumes and feathered headwear frolicked and the drinks flowed freely.

OH?! People then driving home, huh?

Earlier, when it came time for Gaming Commission chairman Stephen P. Crosby to declare the casino open at a ribbon-cutting ceremony that featured former Boston Red Sox star Fred Lynn and football great Doug Flutie, he chose these words: “It’s show time.”

It's an elites world now.

Flutie runs a restaurant in the parlor, and his 1984 Heisman Trophy stands in the center of the casino, greeting bettors as they walk in.

The 2011 state casino law passed after years of debate, pushed by then-Governor Deval Patrick as a source of revenue — forecast to be as much as $400 million a year when two bigger, resort-style casinos come on line in 2018.

Patrick also considered it a jobs bill, expected to put 10,000 people to work. House Speaker Robert DeLeo threw his support behind the bill after a healthy share of casino revenue was dedicated to supporting horse racing in the state.

Down the memory hole that is going.

Plainridge is owned by Penn National, one of the country’s top casino companies, which has sunk $100 million into the project.

“We’re going to be here a long time,” said Tim Wilmott, Penn National’s chief executive officer. “Our typical customer is between 50 and 70 years old, half of them retired, many with families they have raised,” he said. “They have paid off the mortgage, and they have a little extra time and money to spend.”

Seniors must own stock!

Judging by license plates on the cars in the parking garage, Plainridge on its first day not only kept Massachusetts gamblers home, it also attracted a sizeable contingent from Rhode Island and a smattering of folks from Maine, New Hampshire, and New York.

Mary Carlozzi, 60, of New Bedford, could barely contain her excitement as she arrived at the casino with two daughters, one of whom is about to be married. “We are here to win money for her wedding,” Carlozzi said with a laugh.

The Carlozzis make family reunions out of their casino outings.

“My three sisters wanted to come, too, but they had to take a rain check until they have more money,” Carlozzi said, still laughing.

By early evening, some of the novelty was wearing off.

Do I ever know that feeling after more than eight years. 

Carol Caranci, 74, of North Providence, R.I., said she was concentrating so intensely on playing the slot machines that she was barely aware of her surroundings.

“I’m up about $30,” she said, before dropping her head back down to play.

Beyond the addictive behavior, rule number one is never believe a gambler when they tell you how they are doing. I know from personal experience. 

Unfortunately, being here has become my addiction.


How long until that flag at bottom is as reviled as the Confederate and Nazi flags, folks?

UPDATE: Plainridge casino brings in $18 million in first full month