New Castle News


May 10, 2014

Photo Gallery, Story: Differing opinions offered at gaming hearing

NEW CASTLE — Track owners and locals offered differing views on whether Lawrence Downs Casino and Racing Resort should receive a gaming license.

Forty-seven people addressed the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board at a public hearing at the Mahoning Township Community Center on Thursday. More than 200 people attended.

Local residents, government officials and business people urged the board to award the state’s final Category I casino license to Endeka Entertainment for the $210 million venture.

The Philadelphia-based organization, in partnership with Penn National Gaming, plans to build the harness racing track and casino off Routes 422 and 551 in Mahoning Township.

The developer already holds a harness racing license for the venture.

The project is expected to spur more than 600 permanent jobs for Lawrence County. An additional 1,000 construction jobs are anticipated during the 15 to 18 month building phase.

Representatives of the Meadows Racetrack and Casino, Rivers Casino and Washington County, home to The Meadows harness racing track, gave opposing views and urged the board not to grant the license to Endeka.

They complained that casino revenues are being eroded from competition in Pennsylvania and from new venues in  Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland.

Craig Clark, general manager of Rivers Casino, estimated that if Lawrence Downs is built, 25 percent of the local casino’s revenue will be at the expense of Rivers and The Meadows. Rivers would be 55 miles from the proposed Lawrence Downs.

Sean Sullivan, general manager of The Meadows, said his facility already has felt the loss of patrons and revenue since the Lady Luck Resort Casino opened at Nemacolin.

He urged the board to grant the last casino license “to a place where it will generate more gaming revenue, income and jobs for the state,” instead of to a western Pennsylvania venue. He noted that a report by state Treasurer Robert McCord indicates the best place for a casino is York or Adams county.

“Maybe Lawrence County was the place five years ago, but that was before Austintown,” he said.

Penn National’s thoroughbred racetrack with a video lottery terminal parlor under construction in Austintown, Ohio, is expected to open in the fall.

The competing casino operators also argued that the Lawrence County project would be backed by taxpayers’ money, which they said puts local taxpayers at risk.

County Commissioner Dan Vogler called those comments a “blatant mischaracterization” of what the county officials propose.

He said the commissioners are proposing a $50 million bond issue to be paid off with part of the county’s share of anticipated casino revenues. No taxpayer money would be used, he said.

Lawrence County Controller David Gettings noted that 122 casinos compete and coexist in Las Vegas.

Locals in favor of the venture noted 10 years of commitment to the project.

Several spoke of anticipated benefits for local schools, including the presence of Butler County Community College at Lawrence Crossing and New Castle School of Trades, available to train potential employees.

Mercer County Commissioner John Lechner addressed cooperative efforts between Lawrence and Mercer counties. He said the racing complex will compliment the Prime Outlets near Grove City, an outlet mall that draws people from as far as Canada.

Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan countered that Lawrence Downs getting the license would not be in the best interest of gaming, and that additional competition will hurt existing venues.

The crowd booed Vaughan when she asked the board to deny the license.

The Rev. James Downs, who supports the project, pointed out gambling “is not sinful, but not grace-filled either.”

With gambling, as with all compulsive behaviors, it is up to the individual to control, he said.

Downs apologized to the board for the “appalling way we treated the Washington County commissioner.”

Vaughan had said in her remarks that opportunities “for economic prosperity are still achievable to Lawrence County without a casino.”

Downs in response commented, “But, doggone, she left without telling us what they were. Maybe she’ll write.”

(To view Debbie Wachter’s photo gallery from the hearing, CLICK HERE.)


Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Bobby_Ferrara.jpg Ferrara comes home after life in the ring

    Former New Castle resident Bob Ferrara has spent much of his 77 years inside a boxing ring. A Pittsburgh Golden Gloves champion in 1958, Ferrara — who was known then as Bobby Ferry — continued to find success long after leaving his hometown for the sunny skies of Tucson, Ariz.

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • VerySpecial.jpg Jameson Hoyt Atrium display spotlights artwork of special needs kids and adults

    Artwork from dozens of area students will take center stage Thursday in the Hoyt Atrium of Jameson Hospital. The Very Special Arts exhibit will kick off with an opening reception at 5 p.m., and the works will remain on display in the glass-enclosed walkway through Oct. 4.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • DougDanko.jpg Census shows county population getting older

    Lawrence County’s population continues to get older. However, it is not alone, as Pennsylvania overall is aging.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • backpackproject.jpg Councilman picks up tab to help lunch program

    Participants of a local summer feeding program are eating this week courtesy of New Castle City Councilman Tim Fulkerson. On Friday morning, the truck dispatched from New Castle to pick up about 3,500 pounds of items from the Pittsburgh Food Bank broke down as it arrived at its destination.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CRESTVIEW.jpg Outreach: Churches plan to host picnic for residents of Crestview Gardens

    Volunteers from several area churches are banding together in hopes of bringing peace to a troubled neighborhood.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg Council OKs funds to remove dead trees

    New Castle City Council has approved spending funds from its contingency account to remove some trees at Darlington Park. Marshall Tree Experts of Ellwood City has given an estimate of $12,000 to remove the large elm trees from the Mahoningtown park.


    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • 12.jpg Photo Gallery, Story: Night light

    The balloons may have been on the ground but spirits were soaring.


    July 25, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • StateFair.jpg 'State Fair' coming to Playhouse

    The fair is coming to town. No, not the Lawrence County Fair, although that is right around the corner. This is the Iowa State Fair, and it will be live on the stage of the New Castle Playhouse for three weeks, starting Friday night.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • accountant.jpg DeLorenzo’s status with authority unchanged

    Deno DeLorenzo’s status as a contract employee with the New Castle Sanitation Authority remains unchanged. Authority board members met with DeLorenzo last week regarding an investigation by the Lawrence County district attorney’s office involving Shenango Township funds.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shooting.jpg Detroit area man dies in Ellwood City gunfire

    A triple shooting in an Ellwood City street has claimed the life of a Detroit area man. Gunfire erupted in the middle of Loop Street outside the Walnut Ridge housing project around 10:20 p.m. Sunday, according to state police.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to authorize Speaker John Boehner to sue President Obama for allegedly overstepping his legal authority with the way he's handled Obamacare. Good call?

Yes. Obama's been overstepping his authority since day one in office. It's time he pay the piper.
No. The allegations are ridiculous and the law suit is a waste of time and tax payer money.
I don't know. I'm not a huge fan of Obama, but the suit seems a little extreme.
     View Results