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November 28, 2012

Racetrack developers seek, receive more time

NEW CASTLE — Endeka Entertainment has requested and received more time to seek a casino license.

In a letter dated Nov. 19, the Philadelphia-based developers of a proposed racetrack and casino in Lawrence County were given an additional 60 days to meet three conditions imposed by the Pennsylvania Harness Racing commission. The organization has until Jan. 25 to: provide the commission with documents verifying its financial commitment and that at least $170 million is available to construct a racing facility, furnish the commission with an executed copy of a management agreement to operate the facility, and apply for a casino license through the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

The initial deadline expired Saturday. The organization had requested a formal extension of the deadline in a letter dated Nov. 1.

In the letter, George Crawford, executive secretary of the harness racing commission, further states he is aware Endeka has been in discussion with financial institutions and working diligently to secure funding. Crawford said he also understands Endeka is progressing in negotiations with a Horsemen’s Association to secure an agreement to have live racing at the track.

Endeka had agreed to meet these and other conditions Oct. 25 when the commission approved the transfer of stock and assets from American Harness Tracks to Endeka.

Crawford added that based on the letter, supplemental information and weekly status updates, “it appears that Endeka is working towards substantial compliance with the enumerated conditions.”

“I know there is another delay but I am encouraged,” Lawrence County Commissioner chairman Dan Vogler said Tuesday at the commissioners meeting.

In June, Pittsburgh-based American Harness Tracks announced Endeka Entertainment as the new financial backer for the local racetrack/casino proposal.

The new partners include insurance executive Manuel Stamatakis, an investor in the failed downtown Philadelphia Foxwoods Casino, and Edward Snider, chairman of Comcast Spectacor, owner of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Both also were investors in the Philadelphia Trotters and Pacers Inc., which unsuccessfully sought a harness racing license. That project failed in 2004. In 2011, 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.

The harness commission awarded the racing license to Lawrence County in September 2007, after a compromise was reached between local developer Carmen Shick and Indiana-based Centaur Gaming.

American Harness purchased the assets at a bankruptcy auction in 2010. The commission approved American Harness’ plan and granted a conditional racing license in July 2011, setting conditions that include proof of financial backing and hiring a management team to oversee the project.

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

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