BOSTON (SHNS) – The slots parlor at Plainridge Park Casino will be under new leadership as its renewed gaming license kicks in, parent company Penn National Gaming announced just before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission approved the Plainville facility to operate for another five years.
Lance George, who was named general manager of Plainridge Park Casino more than a year before it opened in June 2015, is being promoted to head up Penn’s Argosy Casino Riverside in Kansas City. He will be replaced as GM in Plainville by North Grounsell, who is currently assistant GM at Penn’s Ameristar Black Hawk casino in Colorado. The transition is expected by the end of the year, Penn officials said.
The announcement came as Massachusetts gaming regulators were preparing to approve the state’s first gaming license renewal early Wednesday afternoon with a unanimous vote to relicense the Plainville slots parlor. Commissioners praised George as a good partner and a straight shooter, and officials said the announcement did not affect the license renewal decision.
The unanimous vote in favor of relicensure capped off a nearly year-long process in which the commission crafted the framework for license renewals, gathered a bevy of information from Plainridge, analyzed impacts of the slots parlor over the last five years, and scrutinized PPC’s actual performance versus its pledges when it secured the lucrative slots parlor license.
“[T]he gaming licensee has clearly demonstrated a business ability to operate a successful gaming establishment,” the commission wrote in the draft official order approving the renewal included in meeting materials Wednesday.
The Gaming Commission had already approved the results of an investigation that found Plainridge, its parent company Penn National Gaming and individual executives suitable to hold a Massachusetts gaming license, and heard nothing but support for the Plainville slots parlor from local officials at a recent public hearing. On Wednesday, commissioners heard testimony from the heads of various commission divisions — none of whom suggested conditions to be attached to the renewed license.
“This is a big day,” Executive Director Karen Wells said at the outset of the meeting.
Plainridge Park Casino was the first facility to open under Massachusetts’s 2011 expanded gaming law and its license was the first to expire.
Since it opened June 24, 2015, gamblers have put more than $9.7 billion into the slot machines at Plainridge and the $250 million facility has generated about $777 million in gross gaming revenue. Forty-nine percent of that gross gaming revenue has flowed to the state as revenue, totaling $310.8 million in tax revenue and another $69.9 million in funding dedicated to the horse racing industry in a little more than five years.
Plainridge’s license is now valid for another five years, until June 24, 2025. Commission officials said Grounsell’s application to be licensed as a “key employee” is under review and that the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau will soon begin a complete review of Grounsell’s background. The five commissioners do not need to vote on his approval as long as the IEB’s review comes back clean.
Before his current position in Colorado, Grounsell served almost three years as assistant GM of Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia, about two years as GM of Affinity Gaming in Colorado, and he also previously worked for Caesars Entertainment and Harrah’s. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music, music history and theory from Vanderbilt University, as well as a Vanderbilt MBA in marketing and accounting, according to his LinkedIn profile.
On that page, Grounsell describes himself as a “resilient problem solver with a proven history of continuously reducing expense, increasing customer satisfaction, and improving employee engagement.”