And here's how it looks just before the doors open...
A player reacts to a good spin on the Golden Goddess slot
Video: Plainridge Park Casino officially opens its doors
Plainridge is packed just after opening. Boston Globe staff photo by John Tlumacki.
The First Gambler
Dave Bartkiewicz is pretty sure he was the first gambler in Massachusetts' casino era.
Bartkiewicz, of Shrewsbury, got to Plainridge Park Casino a little before 9 a.m. On Wednesday to find that he was second in line. Alan Conroy, of Plainville,
had beaten him by nearly half an hour. But the wiry Bartkiewicz was determined to be the first to try his luck, and had a fairly obvious foot speed advantage over the stout Conroy.
"I'm going to run right past him," Bartkiewicz whispered conspiratorially, peering over his glasses, as the men waited at the front of a hundreds-deep line behind them.
When the doors swung open just before noon, Bartkiewicz bolted. The hare beat the tortoise
-- though it helped that the tortoise either didn't know or didn't care that he was in a race.
"I'm not fussy," said Conroy, who wasn't expecting to be first in line to begin with. He just wanted a slot machine -- "one that puts out," he said.
"He was wandering around," Bartkiewicz said. "I just sat at the first machine."
The prize for being (maybe) Massachusetts first slot player?
"I lost $20," Bartkiewicz said. "Who cares?"
Lining up for Ellen
By about 2 p.m. the crowd at Plainridge was so thick that lines were forming behind many of the 1,250 slot machines. Jesse Rezendes was among a small group waiting patiently for a seat at one of three Ellen Degeneres themed machines.
“It’s kind of weird,” he said of the daytime talk show host’s gracing of a high-tech gambling device.
But it turns out there are a lot of Degeneres gamblers around.
One tiny senior citizen after another shouldered the burly Rezendes out of the way.
“It’s beautiful, but it’s too crowded,” said Rezendes. “Hopefully it will die down.”
Rezendes, who made the 35-minute drive from Carver and usually visits nearby Twin River and makes occasional trips to the big Connecticut casinos. Plainridge is closer and — even more appealing to him — smoke-free. That alone will be enough to keep him coming back — assuming he can find an open machine.
Flutie escapes the rush
Jeff Guertin did not come here to gamble.
"Every cent that I earn is already spent," said Guertin, 58, of Berkley.
But when he heard that Doug Flutie would be in attendance for the Plainridge Park Casino ribbon cutting, he turned up to get an autograph on a photo of the former Patriots and Boston College quarterback executing a dropkick.
"I got here at 1:30," Guertin said, waiting alone in the sports bar that bears Flutie's name and displays his uniforms and Heisman Trophy. "My timing was off."
In fact the elusive quarterback had scampered out of the casino hours earlier, drawing shrieks from some of the hundreds waiting in line before the doors opened. A rumor that he might return later was enough to get Guertin to stick around for a while.
"I'd hate to leave and find out he came five minutes later," Guertin said.