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Panel OKs Plainville for 1st Mass. slots parlor

This artist's rendition released in Oct 2013 by Penn National Gaming shows the company's casino at its proposed location in Plainville, Mass. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted by a 3-2 margin to offer a license to the company for the state's first and only slots parlor with a maximum of 1,250 slot machines, but no table games. (AP Photo/Penn National Gaming)

This artist's rendition released in Oct 2013 by Penn National Gaming shows the company's casino at its proposed location in Plainville, Mass. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted by a 3-2 margin to offer a license to the company for the state's first and only slots parlor with a maximum of 1,250 slot machines, but no table games. (AP Photo/Penn National Gaming)

Panel OKs Plainville for 1st Mass. slots parlor

BOSTON — A divided Massachusetts Gaming Commission chose Plainville on Thursday to be the site of the state’s first and only slots parlor.

On a 3-to-2 vote, the panel offered the slots parlor license to Penn National Gaming, which plans to operate a $225 million facility at the Plainridge harness racetrack. The track has been struggling to stay afloat as horse racing faltered in Massachusetts in recent years.

Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby voted along with Commissioner James McHugh for a competing bid from Cordish Cos. to build a slots parlor in Leominster, saying it would offer more jobs and opportunities for the state’s economically challenged north-central region. A third applicant, Raynham Park, did not receive any votes.

In backing Plainville, commissioners Gayle Cameron, Enrique Zuniga and Bruce Stebbins cited, among other factors, their desire to preserve harness racing. The track’s owners said it would almost certainly close without the slots parlor. The commissioners also noted Penn National’s considerable experience in operating 28 gambling facilities in North America.

Holyoke police say wrecked car had no one inside

HOLYOKE — Holyoke police are investigating a car crash mystery.

Police responding to reports of a crash found the heavily-damaged car flipped on its roof at about 2:30 a.m. Thursday.

But there was no one inside.

Police say three people were seen walking away from the vehicle. A search of the area by police and firefighters came up empty too.

The car had not been reported stolen.

Investigators are asking anyone with information about the crash to contact them.

Coakley: Say no to online lottery push

BOSTON — Attorney General Martha Coakley warned Thursday against expanding the Massachusetts Lottery online.

Allowing individuals to purchase lottery tickets over the Internet would require the use of credit cards, Coakley said, and using credit cards to buy lottery tickets has long been barred in Massachusetts out of fear that it would lure problem gamblers into crushing personal debt.

Coakley, a Democratic candidate for governor, also said there are difficulties in verifying the age of online gamblers.

“I feel pretty strongly that it is not a good idea for consumers. It’s not a good idea for Massachusetts,” Coakley said.

One of Coakley’s Democratic rivals for governor, state Treasurer Steven Grossman, has pushed state lawmakers for permission to test what he hopes will be a first wave of Internet lottery games in Massachusetts.

A spokesman for Grossman, whose office oversees the state lottery, said he also opposes the use of credit cards for online lottery games and doesn’t believe they would require the use of credit cards.

He said one possible option would be to use a card with stored value that can be refilled at lottery retailers. That would also allow the stores to get a commission on winning tickets.

Grossman has said the threat of Internet gambling to existing state lotteries is imminent. Other states are also exploring online lottery games.

In 2012, Grossman pointed to a U.S. Justice Department ruling that reversed a previous stance barring states from conducting online gambling. At the time, Grossman said the new ruling allows the Lottery to market online to in-state adults with credit cards.

Treasury spokesman Jon Carlisle said Grossman believes that any launch of online lottery games should come with two conditions — that the games have no negative impact on the lottery’s 7,400 sales agents and that it not lead to increased problem gambling.

A bill currently before state lawmakers would let the lottery launch online games.

Money from the Lottery goes back to Massachusetts cities in towns in the form of unrestricted aid. In the past two fiscal years, that has totaled $1.9 billion.

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