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Published: Monday, 7/2/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Penn National makes request official to move Raceway Park to Dayton

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS — Toledo’s Raceway Park could be packed up and shipped to the city of Dayton as soon as 2014.

Penn National Gaming, Inc., the Pennsylvania-based corporation behind Hollywood Casino Toledo, announced today that it has filed an application with the Ohio Lottery Commission for a slots parlor associated with the track and another with the Ohio State Racing Commission for permission to move the track to Dayton.

The move does not come as a surprise. Penn said after voters approved its month-old Toledo casino, along with three others in Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, that it wanted to eventually move Raceway Park out of the casino’s shadow.

Although the slots parlors were pursued by the state, in part, as a means of bolstering the horse-racing industry, Penn determined that a slots parlor at its own track on Telegraph Road just nine miles from its new 24-hour casino would compete for the same players.

Penn also plans to move its Beulah Park track near Columbus to the Youngstown area to get it out of the way of its new Hollywood Casino Columbus to open this fall as well as a newly opened slots parlor at nearby Scioto Downs, which is not affiliated with Penn.

Lottery spokesman Marie Kilbane said the application is track specific but not site specific.

“Once we have it in hand, we will spend the first 30 days reviewing it to make sure all of the information that is supposed to be there is there,” she said. “Once all is set, we’ll ask for the $10 million filing fee” for each track.

Penn will ultimately pay a total of $50 million to the lottery commission — the $10 million filing fee, $15 million more when the first slot machines start taking in money, and then $25 million more after one year of operation — for each slots license.

It will also pay $75 million to the racing commission to relocate each track.

Penn currently plans to install up to 1,500 slot machines at each of its tracks. State law currently allows up to 2,500 for each of Ohio’s seven tracks, and Penn could come back later to the commission to ask to up the number of machines. Penn has 2,000 at its new Toledo casino.

So far, Scioto Downs is the sole licensed track slots parlor. River Downs in Cincinnati and Thistledown near Cleveland have also filed applications.

Penn had been waiting for the legal clouds to clear surrounding lawmakers’ decision to authorize slots-like “video lottery terminals” as an extension of the state lottery before filing applications to move the tracks.

The atmosphere cleared a bit in late May when a Franklin County Common Pleas Court judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the state’s authority to make such a move without first putting the question to voters. That decision, however, was recently appealed to the Columbus-based 10th District Court of Appeals.

Penn said it plans to keep operating Raceway Park in its current location until it has completed construction of a new $125 million racetrack/slots parlor on a 125-acre site of a shuttered Delphi Automotive plant in north Dayton. When the harness-racing track completes the move to Dayton, it will be rechristened Hollywood Slots at Dayton Raceway, dropping any pretense that the machines are anything but slot machines.

“We are hopeful we can receive state approval in a timely manner, allowing us to break ground this fall on the new facilities in the Mahoning Valley and in Dayton,” said Tim Wilmott, Penn president and chief operating officer.



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