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Published: Wednesday, 3/20/2013

Racing park to add 300 indoor seats with racetrack views


COLUMBUS — Penn National Gaming’s slots-equipped Dayton successor to Toledo’s Raceway Park still needs more seats where patrons can actually see a live horse, state regulators said today.

Penn returned to the Ohio State Racing Commission with new plans that added about 300 indoor seats with racetrack views and made the point that it can’t do more without making significant changes to its proposed building and disrupting its timetable to open some time next spring.

“You can see from the simulcast area?” asked commission Chairman Robert K. Schmitz.

“Not without getting out of your seat,” responded John Finamore, Penn’s senior vice president of regional operations.

“That doesn’t count,” Mr. Schmitz said.

Penn is spending a total of $150 million to ask the racing commission to transfer its existing harness-racing license at Raceway Park and thoroughbred racing license at Beulah Park near Columbus to Dayton and just outside of Youngstown, respectively.

Penn doesn’t want its planned gaming parlors equipped with slots-like video lottery terminals to directly compete with the new voter-approved, Las Vegas-style casinos it has opened within the last year on the Toledo riverfront and in west Columbus. It is seeking VLT licenses from the Ohio Lottery Commission.

Penn then plans to spend another $250 million total building the two “racinos.”

The commission plans to take another look at the issue on March 27 with Penn urging quick consideration so it can start pouring concrete at both sites in April.

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