Mountaineer Parent Closes Michigan Track

The parent company of Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in West Virginia announced Dec. 4 it has ceased operations at Jackson Harness Raceway, a Michigan facility it purchased in 2005.

MTR Gaming Group in a short release said there won’t be live racing or simulcasts in 2009. The track was awarded 29 racing dates for next year.

MTR Gaming Group had acquired a 90% interest in Jackson Racing Inc. It operates Jackson under a lease agreement that expires in 2012.

In its third-quarter earnings report, MTR Gaming Group said Jackson generated operating losses and is projecting further losses, and has “substantially exhausted its operating funds, including funds provided by the company. However, under the terms of our credit agreement, we do not have the ability to provide further financial support to (the racetrack).”

The company said it performed an evaluation to determine whether Jackson’s assets were impaired. The assets consist of a $2.6-million intangible asset that represents the assigned value of the racing licenses held by Jackson Trotting Association.

“The value assigned to the racing licenses considered that the racing licenses permit the association to conduct live racing and simulcast operations, and if legislative proposals in Michigan were passed, the track could operate electronic gaming devices,” the financial report states. “Based upon the projected operating losses, our inability to provide further funding to Jackson Trotting (Association) and an assessment of the potential for legislation permitting gaming operations at the racetracks in Michigan, we concluded that the intangible asset was impaired and, accordingly, recorded an impairment loss of $2.6 million ($2.1 million net of tax) during the quarter that ended Sept. 30, 2008.”

Along with Mountaineer, its flagship property, MTR Gaming Group owns Presque Isle Downs & Casino in western Pennsylvania and Scioto Downs, a harness track in Columbus, Ohio. The company has said it plans to focus on its core assets, which are those three facilities.

Jackson has about 40 full-time employees and more than 100 seasonal employees when live meets are held in the spring and summer. The track opened in the late 1940s.

On Nov. 21, Mountaineer announced it had reduced its workforce by 4%, or more than 90 employees. MTR Gaming Group president and chief executive officer Bob Griffin said a cut in non-essential employees was necessary “to ensure that Mountaineer is profitable.”

Mountaineer is the largest employer in Hancock County, W.Va.

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