JC / Railbird

Sincere Interest

Caught between state law and desperate horsemen, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission agreed on Thursday to “finesse around the regulatory process,” as commissioner Bruce Stebbins put it, and accept “placeholder” applications for a possible 2015 Thoroughbred race meet, so long as “a sincere description of interest” was submitted by the state-mandated deadline of October 1.

“Give us a concept plan, get it into us by the 1st,” said commissioner James McHugh, “and we’ll figure out what to do with it.”

The New England HBPA, which has proposed leasing Suffolk Downs for next year, is expected to submit an application after its officers’ election concludes this week. Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle expressed some skepticism of the group’s plan in a conversation with WBUR’s Jack Lepiarz:

The current operating structure is that they’re losing $10 million a year … you need to erase a $10 million dollar hole and somehow create a $2 million profit. He said to me: “I see no credible way that that can happen right now.”

In 2002, all-sources handle at Suffolk Downs reached $303 million. In 2000, on-track live racing handle totaled $27.6 million. It’s been decline since.