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January 29, 2013

Endeka gets extension for track/casino

NEW CASTLE — Endeka Entertainment has another 45 days to complete plans for its Lawrence County harness racetrack/casino.

George Crawford, executive secretary of the Pennsylvania State Harness Racing Commission, Monday granted the 45-day extension, giving the Philadelphia-based company licensed by the commission to operate in Lawrence County additional time “to come into full compliance” with conditions set by the commission. The extension, Crawford noted, was granted based on understandings conveyed and statements made Friday — the previous deadline — regarding Endeka’s progress with financial institutions and management companies.

In his letter, Crawford said Endeka needed more time and the extension is in the best interest of racing. He also noted “extensions are discretionary and not unlimited.”

The new deadline is March 14.

By that time, Edneka must meet the commission’s conditions that include providing documentation verifying the organization has assets to spend at least $170 million to construct a racing facility, furnish the commission with proof that a management company has been retained to operate the racetrack/casino complex and apply to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for a casino license.

Both state Rep. Chris Sainato and Dan Vogler, Lawrence County commissioner chairman, cheered the extension as good news. Both said the continued talks indicate the commission and would-be developers show the project remains viable.

In November, Edneka requested and received more time to meet harness commission conditions, extending the original deadline by 60 days.

Endeka partners include insurance executive Manuel Stamatakis and Edward Snider, chairman of Comcast Spectacor and owner of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Both had been investors in the Philadelphia Trotters and Pacers Inc., which unsuccessfully sought a harness racing license. That project failed in 2004. Stamatakis was also in investor in the downtown Philadelphia Foxwoods Casino project. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board revoked the Foxwoods casino license because of construction delays.

Property developer Peter DePaul, who was involved in the Foxwoods project, is also a partner.

In June, the partners took over from Pittsburgh-based American Harness Tracks as the new financial backers of the local racetrack/casino project.

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

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