BOSTON — Three firms competing to operate the state’s first and only slots parlor made pitches Monday to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, with each touting their respective locations as superior to the others.

Cordish Cos., Penn National Gaming and Raynham Park made formal presentations to the five-member panel that expects to award the slots-only license in late December or early January.

After hearing their presentations, commissioner Chairman Stephen Crosby said the panel faces a “tough choice.”

The winning firm would be the first facility licensed and almost certainly the first to open under the state’s 2011 expanded gambling law, which also allows for up to three regional resort casinos.

All three companies promised to install the maximum 1,250 slot machines allowed under the state law.

Penn National said it would continue harness racing at the Plainridge track in Plainville, while Raynham Park said it would seek to be a “safety net” for harness racing if it won the slots parlor license and Plainridge subsequently closed.

Cordish, with no plans to offer racing, touted its location in Leominster as ideal because it is at least one hour from any of the proposed resort casinos in Massachusetts and “would not cannibalize the big three,” said David Cordish, chairman of the Baltimore-based company.