The Meadows Changes Hands
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The parent company of the The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Pennsylvania, which is operated in part by former owner Magna Entertainment Corp., has been sold for $1.75 billion to an Australian entity, it was announced Dec. 12.

Cannery Casino Resorts, which purchased the Pittsburgh-area facility from MEC for nearly $200 million in November 2006, sold a package of four properties to Crown Ltd in the deal. Also included in the transaction were Las Vegas-area businesses The Cannery Hotel and Casino, Nevada Palace Casino and Rampart Casino in Summerlin. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the deal, which took about 45 days to complete, will approach $1.8 billion after acquisition costs are added.

MEC has under a five-year management service agreement operated the racing side of The Meadows, which features about 210 live days of harness racing. Slots were legalized in July 2004 under the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act, but licenses weren't officially awarded until December 2006, about a month after the closing of MEC's sale of The Meadows to Cannery Casino Resorts.

Bill Paulos, joint chief executive officer and part owner of Cannery Casino Resorts, told the Post-Gazette Cannery Casino Resorts will have invested $450 million into The Meadows by the time a new permanent casino opens in March 2009. Since the temporary casino opened June 11, its 1,738 slots have averaged a daily gross of about $6 million, the publication reported. The new casino, which will total 125,000 square feet, will house 3,300 slots.

The Meadows was founded in 1963 by the Washington Trotting Association, but has since changed hands several times. MEC acquired it from the English-based Ladbroke Group for $46.5 million in 2001.

Crown Ltd. owns Crown Casino in Melbourne and Burswood Casino in Perth. It also owns 38% of Melco PBL Entertainment Ltd., a joint venture to build casinos in Macau with Hong Kong's Melco International Developments Ltd. It also has stakes in other casino operations.

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