PNGI to Outline Rationale for OH Track Moves

PNGI will outline its rationale for moving two Ohio tracks if VLTs are approved.

Penn National Gaming Inc. will publicly inform the Ohio State Racing Commission Feb. 10 of its plans to relocate two Ohio racetracks should the state’s tracks get video lottery terminals.

PNGI will not request license transfers, officials said, but rather explain its rationale for relocation. The two tracks—Beulah Park near Columbus and Raceway Park in Toledo—are near sites at which PNGI will build two full-scale casinos.

The company has been looking for “underserved” markets in Ohio, and has settled on Dayton, a city in the state’s fourth-largest metropolitan market. The Beulah Park license for Thoroughbred racing would move to that area, which is located north of Cincinnati and southwest of Columbus off Interstate 75.

PNGI has targeted a 125-site at the abandoned Delphi Automotive plant in the northern part of Dayton.

Raceway Park, a harness track, would move to the Youngstown area in northeastern Ohio, about an hour from Cleveland, near the intersection of Route 11 and Interstate 80, the Ohio Turnpike. Another entity has proposed building a new track in that region but it would have to apply for a racetrack license.

PNGI officials previously said any move of racetrack licenses hinges on approval of VLTs.

“We determined that if Ohio implements a sensible plan for VLTs at its racetracks, we can strengthen Ohio’s racing industry, create jobs and economic development, and maximize revenues to the state by relocating our existing facilities from Columbus and Toledo, where we are currently developing full-scale casinos as authorized by the voters in 2009,” PNGI president and chief operating officer Tim Willmot said.

The two projects, which require new construction, would cost a combined $400 million, inclusive of VLT license fees, the company said.

Beulah Park and Raceway Park will continue operating through 2011 and beyond pending authorize of racetrack VLTs. Republican Gov. John Kasich, elected last November, is now formulating a strategy for gaming in Ohio.