PNGI Has Agreement to End MJC Partnership

Penn National Gaming is ending its partnership in the Maryland Jockey Club.

Penn National Gaming Inc. said June 16 it has a “definitive agreement” to terminate its partnership in the Maryland Jockey Club, but it will remain involved in racing and gaming in the state through other holdings.

PNGI said it plans to sell its 49% interest in the MJC to a new entity called Stron-MJC Limited Partnership, which will be controlled by Frank Stronach. The current 51% partner in the MJC is MI Developments, which is transferring its racing properties to Stronach, the company’s chairman.

PNGI entered into the deal with MID in 2010 with the intent of developing unused racetrack property and pushing for slot machines. The MJC operates Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course, and the Bowie Training Center.

Earlier this year PNGI purchased Rosecroft Raceway, a shuttered Maryland harness track, at a bankruptcy auction.

“While we are divesting our interest in the Maryland Jockey Club, Penn National Gaming remains committed to racing and gaming in Maryland,” PNGI president and chief executive officer Peter Carlino said in a statement. “With our acquisition earlier this year of Rosecroft Raceway in Oxon Hill and our successful opening last fall of the state’s first VLT facility, we will focus our resources on further strengthening the racing and operations at Rosecroft and building on the initial success of Hollywood Casino Perryville.

“We believe that the Maryland Jockey Club, Pimlico, and Laurel Park will be well-served under the single ownership of the Stronach Group, and we wish them success with these historic racing venues.”

The transaction is scheduled to close June 30. The Maryland Racing Commission is expected to vote on the deal June 29.

The MCJ later in the day issued its own release on the deal with PNGI. Terms weren't disclosed.

“Today’s announcement is part of our ongoing commitment to the horse racing industry and to the state of Maryland," said Stronach's daughter, Belinda. "We are determined to work with industry and government officials across the state to further develop Maryland’s reputation as a premiere location for racing.”

Said Greg Avioli, president and CEO of Stronach's gaming and racing division: “The tremendous support for last month’s Preakness, with more than 107,000 in attendance, demonstrates what a fantastic racing market Maryland can be when given a quality product. As we turn the page and begin a new chapter in Maryland racing, we are more committed than ever to do what it takes to return Maryland to its rightful place as one of the top racing and breeding states in the country.”

In July, the MRC will tackle the issue of licensing Rosecroft, which PNGI hopes to reopen this year with a limited live race meet. Also on the table is an agreement with Thoroughbred interests that would allow Rosecroft to restore full-card simulcasts of Thoroughbred signals.

PNGI owns and operates a video lottery terminal facility in Perryville in northeastern Maryland. A portion of revenue from that operation goes to support horse racing in the state.