New Castle News

Hot Topics

November 15, 2013

Presque Isle Downs sues harness commission, Endeka

NEW CASTLE — Presque Isle Downs and Casino is continuing its efforts to block Lawrence County’s proposed racetrack and casino.

This week the Erie-based racetrack and gaming facility asked Commonwealth Court to order the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission to “substantively review licensure matters” involving the license issued to Endeka Entertainment to establish Lawrence Downs Casino and Racing Resort.

The Erie concern operates a racetrack/casino about 75 miles from the track and casino proposed for Mahoning Township.

Presque Isle said it is taking this action “to protect its interest as a competing racino in the same market ... in the best interest of racing and the commonwealth’s interest” by opposing a harness racing license to Endeka “to develop an unsuitable and unfeasible” facility.

In July, the commission granted Philadelphia-based Endeka Entertainment and its partner, Penn National Gaming Inc., a license to build a $160 million racetrack in Lawrence County.

In September, Presque Isle challenged the racing commission’s decision.

It now claims the commission “shirked its duties” by not re-examining Endeka’s proposal, saying the application changed since it was first submitted. Presque Isle contends the application is incomplete, lacking plans for the racetrack, security and other structures.

Changes identified by Presque Isle include a $100 million drop in projected revenue, the loss of a horsemen’s association agreement and a “substantially changed competitive environment,” which includes a thoroughbred racetrack now under construction in Austintown, Ohio.

Another change not reviewed by the commission, Presque Isle claims, is the “highly questionable” decision by Lawrence County government to back the project with a $50 million bond issue to be repaid with anticipated gaming revenues.

Lawrence County commissioner chairman Dan Vogler said Presque Isle’s characterization — that public funds will be used — is misleading.

“We’re looking at a bond issue that will be repaid using funds earmarked for Lawrence County that will be provided through casino revenue,” he said, not tax money.

In October, when the commission rejected Presque Isle’s request to revoke Endeka’s license, commission solicitor Jorge Augusto said Endeka had met all licensing conditions and — more importantly — no proceeding involving Endeka was before the commission.

Presque Isle disagrees, claiming Endeka has not met conditions set by the commission — even after requesting and receiving three extensions.

It also questions the propriety of Penn National Gaming, Endeka’s partner in the local project.

In addition to signing on to operate a harness track/casino in Lawrence County, Penn National is constructing a thoroughbred racetrack in nearby Austintown, Ohio.

Noting he had not yet read the filing, Lawrence County solicitor Tom Leslie said he sees no potential conflict in Penn National’s operation of two facilities in such close proximity.

“First off, the Lawrence County location would have a casino. The Ohio track would have only a video display terminal parlor.”

“Additionally, the type of people attracted to a harness racetrack are completely different than those drawn to thoroughbred tracks. Penn National is not competing with itself with two racetracks.”

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Hot Topics
  • Bobosky.jpg Gas holdouts unconvinced of safety

    When Suzanne Matteo and her husband, Martin, bought their house on four acres in Pulaski Township they had a plan. They would grow a huge vegetable garden, raise lots of flowers and a few chickens and enjoy the fresh air and quiet.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • gavel.jpg Anti fracking group waits for answer to its letter

    More than 20 state environmental groups are asking that March 25 and 26 hearings on proposed “forced pooling” be postponed. They say more time is necessary to allow members of the public to voice their opinions.
     

    March 18, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Hilcorp_Energy.jpg Hilcorp seeks to force drilling on reluctant landowners

    A hearing has been set on a request to force local landowners to allow gas and oil drilling. Hilcorp Corp., a Texas firm with multiple well pads in the area, is asking for the so-called “forced pooling.”

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • brown.jpg Boy’s murder case goes to Pennsylvania high court

    The Pennsylvania Supreme Court must decide if a Pennsylvania teen should get a new trial in the death of his father’s pregnant fiancée, who was fatally shot with a youth-model shotgun when he was 11.

    March 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Casino.jpg Casino hearing date now official

    May 8 has been confirmed as the public hearing date for Lawrence Downs Casino and Racing Resort. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will hear from those who wish to comment on the casino license under consideration for the racetrack/casino complex planned for Mahoning Township.

    March 12, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Agreement to enhance Austintown track project

    Penn National Gaming announced Monday it has signed a key agreement regarding its Austintown race track and casino. The thoroughbred racing track, part of a facility that will include slots-like gambling machines, is scheduled to open in the fall, and the new agreement with the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association is being touted as “positive progress” in meeting that deadline.

    March 11, 2014

  • Vogler.jpg Public hearing for casino could be in spring

    The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board could turn its focus to Lawrence Downs Casino and Racing Resort this spring. Lawrence County Commissioner Dan Vogler, who attended the board’s meeting in Harrisburg this week, said he and staff members informally discussed a timetable for the upcoming public hearing on the gaming application submitted by Endeka Entertainment.

    March 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • brown.jpg Our Opinion: After five years, Jordan Brown case continues — sadly for all

    It’s not unusual for newspapers to look back on major news events when key anniversaries come about. So it was that the New Castle News has been running articles on the fifth anniversary of the 2009 slaying of Kenzie Houk, and the subsequent arrest of Jordan Brown for the crime.

    February 25, 2014 1 Photo 9 Stories

  • Elisco.jpg Jordan Brown Case, Five Years Later: Defense attorney learns ‘to expect the unexpected’

    On the morning of Feb. 21, 2009, attorney Dennis Elisco met a boy who changed his life. Thursday marked the five-year anniversary in the case of 16-year-old Jordan Brown.

    February 24, 2014 1 Photo 8 Stories

  • Jordan Brown Case, Five Years Later: After half a decade, intrigue and questions remain

    Unusual aspects of Jordan Brown’s case drew national and international attention. Now 16, Jordan was 11 when he was charged as an adult with two counts of homicide in the fatal shooting of his father’s pregnant fiancée, Kenzie Marie Houk, 26.

    February 24, 2014

House Ads
Poll

What is your favorite Easter treat?

Jelly beans
Chocolate ... bunnies, crosses, anything that’s chocolate!
Marshmallow peeps
Decorated eggs
Other
     View Results