Penn National Gaming to Buy Rosecroft

Penn National Gaming Inc. will pay $10.25 million for the Maryland racetrack.

Associated Press

Penn National Gaming Inc. submitted the winning bid for the shuttered Rosecroft Raceway on Jan. 28 for about $10.25 million in cash, edging out Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos in a three-way bid.

Michael Lichtenstein, a Potomac lawyer whose office handled the auction, said the company would submit another $3 million for the Prince George’s County harness racing track, if the Wyomissing, Penn.-based company gets a bond from the state.

Penn National co-owns Laurel Park, which is about 30 miles away from Rosecroft, and Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), racing’s second leg of the Triple Crown. The company also owns the Hollywood Casino in Cecil County.

“Once receiving final approval, we look forward to working with the Standardbred horse owners and the Maryland State Racing Commission to develop a plan to resume live racing at Rosecroft this year,” said a PNGI statement announcing the transaction. “Our long range plan, as it remains for Laurel Park, will be to seek slot machines at Rosecroft, which will help to revitalize Maryland racing and generate important new revenues for the state. We’re hoping the Legislature might consider allowing the issue of slots at Rosecroft to go to the ballot as it is considering other changes to the Maryland gaming law in light of the challenges facing the other remaining authorized zones.”

The sale needs to be approved by a bankruptcy judge. Lichtenstein said a hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 2 in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt before Judge Paul Mannes.

Gov. Martin O’Malley said his administration is looking forward to working with the new owner to restore 200 jobs at the facility.

“It is our hope that new ownership will bring relief to members of the community who share concerns about the vacant facility and its impact on surrounding neighborhoods,” O’Malley said in a statement.
The O’Malley administration outlined plans for legislation soon that will include provisions to help reopen Rosecroft, which filed for bankruptcy in June 2009.

The measure would allow harness racing tracks, like Rosecroft and Ocean Downs near Ocean City, to use up to $1.2 million each in racing purse supplements to defray operating costs, with approval of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The bill also would authorize the Maryland Economic Development Corporation, a private corporation established by the state to promote economic development, to loan up to $4 million to Rosecroft to have a 40-day racing schedule.

The money would be paid out of purse supplements. The loan would require the track owner to hire back former employees, recognize previous collective bargaining agreements, and require the track operator to reinvest revenue in either operating or capital spending to benefit the track.