Rule changes move racino closer to reality


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Trucks move in on the unbuilt part of Lanterman Road in Austintown that will be renamed once the Hollywood Slots at Mahoning Valley Race Course is built.

By Marc Kovac

news@vindy.com

COLUMBUS

The state racing commission again has signed off on rules for relocating horse tracks, setting the stage for a possible vote on a new racino in Austintown as soon as March.

The commission submitted initial rules to the state’s Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review in July, but they’ve been on hold since then. Members OK’d edited rules Thursday, sending them back to JCARR for final review, a process that is expected to take about a month.

Bob Tenenbaum, a spokesman for Penn National, said in an electronic message that the company continues site preparation work for the planned Hollywood Mahoning Valley Race Course and still anticipates opening the new track in 2014.

Penn, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber and the company handling construction of the Austintown racino have scheduled a meeting for next Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. at Ciminero’s Banquet Centre in Niles to provide additional information.

“We’ve already received the necessary zoning approvals from the township and the county, so the next step in that process would be filing for the various permits we will need to move ahead,” Tenenbaum said.

The decision by the racing commission Thursday was the latest in a series by lawmakers, the governor and other state officials to accommodate the relocation of existing horse-racing tracks in Toledo and suburban Columbus to Dayton and Austintown, respectively.

Penn National Gaming submitted required paperwork with the state racing and lottery commissions for the projects last year, asking permission to move the tracks and offer state-controlled video lottery terminals at the new sites.

The rules resubmitted by the racing commission Thursday require Penn to pay a $75 million relocation fee for each track, with half due up front and the remainder paid before video slots are operational.

The racing commission could sign off on Penn’s relocation applications in March. The company will then have to gain approval from the lottery commission to offer VLTs in Austintown. The racing commission also plans additional public hearings to provide further details on the new racino facilities.

“There will be lots of opportunities for the public to present testimony or comments regarding any of the facility requirements,” said Andromeda McGregor, assistant attorney general representing the racing commission.

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