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March 11, 2014

Agreement to enhance Austintown track project

NEW CASTLE — 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.

“We are hopeful that with a signed contract now in hand, the (Ohio Racing) Commission will act at its next scheduled meeting this month to issue a racing permit and approve the 2014 racing dates we have applied for at Mahoning Valley,” said Christopher McErlean, vice president of racing for Penn National.

Penn National has requested 21 live racing dates in 2014 at the Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course. The first is Nov. 24.

The track, now under construction, will include enclosed grandstand seating for more than 1,000 and a video lottery terminal facility that will include approximately 850 devices similar to slot machines, plus restaurants and bars.

According to Penn National, the agreement with the horsemen’s group covers issues such as the number of stalls to be constructed (988 in 13 barns), revenue sharing on proceeds from video lottery terminal revenues to boost race purses, approvals for simulcast of races originating at the track, a coordinated year-round racing schedule with ThistleDown and dormitory spaces for grooms working for horsemen at the track

Penn National is spending $125 million to construct the Austintown site. Approximately 1,000 jobs will be created during the construction process, and an additional 1,000 direct and indirect jobs are anticipated to be created once the facility opens.

Last week, it was announced a public hearing has been scheduled tentatively for May 8 in Lawrence County for another track and casino project.

That hearing, conducted by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control board, is required as part of the process to review license applications for casinos. It is intended to give the public the opportunity to comment on the project.

No date has been indicated as to when the state could approve the Lawrence County proposal or when construction might begin.

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