Instant Racing machine at Oaklawn Park.

Instant Racing machine at Oaklawn Park.

File Photo

Gaming Deal Offers VLTs to Ohio Racetracks

Seven tracks can apply for 10-year licenses at cost of $50 million each to operate.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s “comprehensive gaming review agreement” includes provisions for the Ohio Lottery Commission to award racetracks licenses to operate video lottery terminals.

The agreement, which will allow for construction of casinos in Cincinnati and Cleveland to continue under the ownership of Rock Ohio Caesars, outlines how revenue will be generated for the state, according to a fact sheet that became available June 15.

Each of the state’s seven tracks—three Thoroughbred and four Standardbred—can apply for 10-year VLT licenses at a cost of $50 million each. The money would be paid $10 million at time of application, $15 million when the machines begin operating, and $25 million one year later.

Racetracks would be required to invest at least $150 million in facilities, including the cost of VLTs, the fact sheet states. The tracks, referred to as VLT agents, would keep up to 66.5% of gross gaming revenue.

Another provision deals with Penn National Gaming Inc., which is building casinos in Columbus and Toledo and hopes to strike an agreement with Kasich similar to that of Rock Ohio Caesars. The fact sheet says the state would consider allowing racetrack permit-holders to relocate tracks to Dayton and Youngstown, respectively; PNGI wants to move Beulah Park near Columbus to the Dayton area, and Raceway Park harness track in Toledo to the Youngstown market.

The Kasich plan states that VLTs cannot operate until tracks reach an agreement with horsemen and other groups on how much money will be used for purses, breed development, and other programs. When VLTs were first proposed two years ago under former Gov. Ted Strickland, the share for purses was a major bone of contention.

“The state reserves the right to set the details of an agreement if one is not reached by the time VLT sales are set to begin,” the fact sheet.

Caesars, which has absorbed Harrah’s Entertainment, owns Thistledown near Cleveland. River Downs near Cincinnati is owned by Indiana casino operator Pinnacle Entertainment, and the Scioto Downs harness track near Columbus is owned by MTR Gaming Group. All have expressed interest in adding VLTs.