By Marc Kovac
Penn National Gaming officials are eyeing another horse track near the Youngstown area, this one a half-hour’s drive over the Pennsylvania border.
But a Penn official told the Ohio State Racing Commission on Wednesday the tracks could complement each other, and the gaming company is committed to an Austintown racino.
“We have owned a piece of land now for almost a year,” said Steve Snyder, senior vice president for corporate development. “We’ve been working on wetland remediation ... to prepare that site for the construction of the facility that you have in front of you. We are 110 percent committed to the Mahoning Valley.”
Snyder offered the comment in response to questions from racing commission Chairman Robert Schmitz about news accounts of Penn’s interest in establishing a track in Lawrence County, Pa.
Snyder said the company is in negotiations with the holder of the last harness racing license in that state.
“Those negotiations are by no means final,” he said, noting that the state’s harness racing commission has granted an extension through the end of May.
Snyder said there are differences between the Pennsylvania and Austintown projects, though he could see benefits of having a common manager for the two sites.
The Lawrence County track would feature standardbred racing with gaming tables and indoor smoking, with marketing potentially targeted at suburban Pittsburgh.
The Austintown track will feature thoroughbred racing with electronic slots administered by the state lottery commission and in closer proximity to Mahoning Valley residents.
“By having the same manager, you can market in different directions rather than be up against each facility,” Snyder said. “We think there are advantages at both facilities.”