At Twin River Casino in Lincoln, the first piece of a multiyear and multistate expansion of gambling in southern New England is almost complete.
After six months of planning, hiring and construction, the Rhode Island slot parlor’s transformation into a full-service gaming hall is ahead of schedule and ready for an unveiling at the start of July.
The Twin River expansion approved by voters last fall is Rhode Island’s response to a much larger bet on gambling by Massachusetts, which is creating three resort casinos and a slot parlor.
Critical details of the Bay State’s gambling expansion are also being filled in this summer with the location of the slot-machine license, potentially the closest new facility to Rhode Island gaming, and the first expected to be awarded.
Plainridge Racecourse in Plainville, just 19 miles from Twin River by car, is one of four groups bidding for the Massachusetts slot license.
The owners of Raynham Park in Raynham are also in the running, as are a Chicago-based company with a site in Worcester and a Baltimore company still searching for a site after being turned down by officials in Boxboro, Mass.
According to the schedule laid out by the Mass. State Gaming Commission, which is responsible for awarding all licenses under the state’s 2011 Gaming Act, the slot parlor should be the first to get a green light, possibly by the end of this year.
Spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said the commission is now investigating the 11 groups that submitted applications for licenses in January, along with a $400,000 nonrefundable fee, for the slot parlor and two of the resort casinos, one in eastern Massachusetts and one in western Massachusetts.
The groups considered suitable to go on to the next phase of the process in the slot-parlor race will be chosen by the end of this month and then face an October deadline to submit a final application.
“Suitable” bidders for the eastern and western resort casinos will be determined in August or September, Driscoll said, with a final award expected in the first half of 2014.