River Downs

River Downs

Blood-Horse Publications

Pinnacle Closes on Purchase of River Downs

Pinnacle Entertainment is the official new owner of River Downs in Ohio.

Pinnacle Entertainment, a Las Vegas-based casino company, said Jan. 28 it has closed on the purchase of River Downs in Ohio.

Pinnacle purchased River Downs, located just east of Cincinnati along the Ohio River across from Kentucky, for $45 million in cash.

“We are excited to officially welcome River Downs into Pinnacle’s family of properties,” Pinnacle president and chief executive officer Anthony Sanfilippo said in a statement. “Our intent remains to quickly move to revitalize River Downs as a new gaming, racing, and entertainment destination if video lottery terminals become operational in Ohio.

“Its location is expected to complement our existing Belterra Casino Resort, less than one hour away.”

Pinnacle owns Belterra, one of several Indiana casinos located along the Ohio River. Belterra draws from the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky market.

The status of racetrack VLTs remains up in the air. New Republican Gov. John Kasich hasn't yet outlined his plan for expanded gambling in Ohio.

River Downs was awarded 81 Thoroughbred racing days for 2011 by the Ohio State Racing Commission. The track is scheduled to race four days a week from April 29 through Sept. 5.

Though regulators approved the schedule, the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association hasn’t signed off the reduction of dates from 104 in 2010. If a “two-party” agreement between the track and horsemen isn’t signed, River Downs would lose its right to offer full-card simulcasts in 2012.

An Ohio HBPA official earlier this year said horsemen were waiting for the track sale to close and new management to take over before the issue of dates is addressed.