Race is on for Valley track


Kasich OKs video slots at racetracks

By Elise Franco

efranco@vindy.com

Austintown

Penn National Gaming representatives don’t know whether an agreement to legalize video lottery terminals will affect the likelihood that Penn National will relocate a $200 million racino project from Toledo to Austintown.

The deal is between Gov. John Kasich’s office and Rock Ohio Ceasars LLC.

Bob Tenenbaum, Penn National spokesman, said the agreement didn’t specifically include Penn National, and the company is still in talks with Kasich. Tenenbaum said he wouldn’t discuss what this agreement means for Penn National until it completes its discussions.

The agreement, announced Wednesday, said Ohio would “consider transferring horse-racing permits from current track locations to new locations, including locations in the Dayton and Youngstown areas, at a later date.”

That project could bring $200 million in development and more than 1,000 jobs to the Valley.

“We’re still involved in discussions with the governor’s office and while those discussions are ongoing, we’re simply not going to comment,” Tenenbaum said.

Tenenbaum did say Penn National said previously that it would relocate Raceway Park in Toledo to the Centrepointe Development in Austintown if “a realistic VLT proposal was implemented by the state.” He wouldn’t say whether he thought Wednesday’s agreement met that criterion.

A 10-year license for the VLTs would cost $50 million that the company would pay in increments, according to the agreement. Racetracks using VLTs would be required to invest at least $150 million in them.

Tenenbaum said Penn National’s intent to move Raceway Park to Austintown hasn’t changed.

“The governor has characterized discussions with Penn National as ‘ongoing and productive,’” he said. “We’ve even gone as far as to make a presentation to the racing commission about this.”

State Rep. Ron Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th, said though he’s not privy to the conversations between Penn National and Kasich’s office, he’s confident more questions will be answered soon.

“This should be ironed out in about two weeks, or so,” he said. “We should have a better understanding soon as to how this is going to impact a Dayton location, as well as the possible Austintown location.”

The Rock Ohio deal, announced in Cleveland and Cincinnati, will keep ROC from paying Ohio’s commercial-activity tax on wagers, according to the agreement. The CAT tax would be applied to the casinos’ wagers, minus winnings and payouts.

In return, ROC must pay an additional $110 million to the state over the next 10 years; pay $350 million to the state in VLT license fees, plus 33.5 percent of all VLT sales revenue.

The company also agreed to increase its overall investment in its two casinos from $500 million to $900 million, according to the agreement.

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