Hard Rock, Rush Street Gaming possible new partners at Suffolk Downs

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Two gambling companies familiar with Massachusetts, Hard Rock International and Rush Street Gaming, are emerging as top prospects to join a Suffolk Downs casino venture, days after the East Boston racetrack jettisoned Caesars Entertainment from the $1 billion project, say people familiar with Suffolk Downs’ search for a new partner.

Suffolk Downs was sent scrambling for a new partner on Friday, after learning that state investigators performing background checks on the partnership would recommend to the gambling commission that Caesars be deemed unsuitable to bid for a casino license, a shocking turn for one of the biggest names in the gambling business.

The casino project in the middle of a major shakeup faces a Nov. 5 East Boston referendum that cannot be delayed, said Secretary of State William F. Galvin.

“The ballots have been printed, they’ve been distributed and we know people have already voted,” said Galvin, referring to absentee voters. “Obviously we cannot have anything interfere with a municipal election.”

Suffolk Downs sought to regain its footing Monday by releasing a new television advertisement, in which chief operating officer Chip Tuttle explained that the track had “changed the company that will manage gaming operations here,” but maintained its commitment to developing “a world-class destination resort.”

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