Suffolk Downs, the thoroughbred race trace in East Boston, Massachusetts, will spend almost $1 billion to expand the racetrack into a major casino as well, according to a top track executive.

Suffolk's chief operating officer told the North Shore Alliance for Economic Development on Thursday that the plan is to make Suffolk Downs a world-class casino resort operation with horse racing as one of the attractions, according to The Daily Item of Lynne.

We have made it clear we are going to pursue one of the casino licenses. We want to really create a world-class destination resort with horse racing as the centerpiece, Suffolk Chief Operating Officer Chip Tuttle said, according to The Daily Item.

Tuttle said adding a casino to horse racing, which began at Suffolk Downs in 1935, would create 2,000 to 3,000 permanent jobs.

The move by Suffolk Downs to build the race track into a world class casino resort is allowed after recent approval of casino gaming in Massachusetts by the state legislature. But already, a group of casino gambling foes have filed signatures with the Secretary of State's office in the effort to repeal the new casino gambling law via a statewide vote in November, 2012.

Massachusetts is moving ahead, however, with appointing members of a new state commission that will oversee casinos, and the board is expected to ultimately approved as many as three casinos and a slot gaming facility for the state before the end of 2012. Suffolk Downs hopes to be on that approval list, ready to launch its nearly $1 billion expansion into a casino and gaming resort.