Agreement reached on racino horse stalls

Staff report


Penn National Gaming and a horsemen’s group have finalized an agreement on horse stalls and other aspects of a new Youngstown-area racino, likely setting the stage for needed permit approval by the Ohio Racing Commission.

The company and the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association announced the signed contract Monday, capping months of back-and-forth between the two and state racing officials, who wanted Penn National to commit to close to 1,000 horse stalls at its Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course in Austintown before they’d OK racing dates.

The latter approval is needed before Penn National can operate state-administered video slots at the site.

“We are hopeful that with a signed contract now in hand, the [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, Penn’s vice president of racing.

Among other provisions, the deal calls for 988 horse stalls in 13 barns in Austintown. Penn initially planned about 760 stalls at the track, but the racing commission said that number was not adequate to accommodate races.

The company already has begun construction of the Austintown facility, with plans for video-slots gaming to open for business in the fall. The company has submitted an application to offer live racing starting in November. A total of 21 races already are planned.

“We are obviously elated that this can be put behind us at this point and we can get ready for this new adventure coming to Austintown,” said Jim Davis, an Austintown Township trustee.

In addition to agreeing on the number of horse stalls, the agreement also covers “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 Racino and dormitory spaces for grooms working for horsemen at the track,” according to a news release from Penn National.

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