Thursday, Oct 18, 2018
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Firm cashes out from pair of Ohio casino deals

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One of the primary players behind the Ohio ballot issue that paved the way for Las Vegas-style casino gambling is cashing out of the Toledo and Columbus sites.

Lakes Entertainment will get $25 million from Penn National Gaming Inc. for its rights, titles, and interest in several casino projects that are in development, the casino operator said Wednesday.

The companies entered into an agreement in October in which Lakes would get up to a 10 percent stake in potential casinos in return for picking up some of the costs of building them. The casinos are to be built in Columbus and Toledo.

Lakes has paid about $1.9 million under the deal. Ending it does not affect Lakes' investment with Rock Ohio Ventures LLC and casinos in Cincinnati and Cleveland.

"Although we believe the Toledo and Columbus casinos will be very successful, receiving $25 million now is a good return on our investment with Penn," said Lyle Berman, chief executive officer of Lakes.

Penn National, Cleveland Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert, and Minnesota-based Lakes spent more than $47 million to persuade voters on Nov. 3 to authorize four 24-hour casinos on specific locations in Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

Penn National got final major site-plan approval from the Toledo Plan Commission last week.

Eric Schippers, senior vice president of Penn National, of Wyomissing, Pa., told the commission that the company hopes to begin moving earth on the Toledo site within a month.

Mr. Schippers could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The $250 million facility is scheduled to open in early 2012 and could be the state's first casino to be completed.

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