Penn Gaming Has Agreement to Buy Beulah Park

Penn National Gaming Inc. said it has an agreement to buy Beulah Park in Ohio.

Penn National Gaming Inc. said March 8 that it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase Beulah Park in Grove City, Ohio.

The week of March 1, Ohio racing industry sources said the sale was imminent.

Beulah Park, currently open for live Thoroughbred racing, is owned by Heartland Jockey Club, whose majority owner is developer Charles Ruma. PNGI said the purchase of Beulah Park is expected to close in the second quarter of 2010, and is subject to a 45-day due-diligence period and approval by the Ohio State Racing Commission.

The purchase price wasn’t revealed. Ruma previously sued PNGI over a deal involving the company’s option to purchases Beulah Park.

A release from PNGI indicated the company intends to continue live racing at Beulah Park and that it is interested in having racetrack gaming in the state.

“We are excited to carry on the rich 86-year racing heritage of Beulah Park and further expand our nationwide portfolio of racing facilities, which will now include seven pari-mutuel facilities, the most of any operator in the country,” PNGI president and chief executive officer Peter Carlino said in a statement. “With ownership of Raceway Park in Toledo, this transaction will provide us another opportunity to benefit from the possible legalization of (video lottery terminals) at the state’s seven racetracks.

“We look forward to working with the local horsemen and the Ohio State Racing Commission to continue delivering both racing entertainment and a wide variety of summer attractions at Beulah Park.”

Beulah Park, which opened in 1923, sits on about 210 acres just outside of Columbus, the state capital. The track offers about 125 live racing days each year.

PNGI was successful in getting Issue 3, a measure that authorized casinos in Ohio’s four largest cities, passed in 2009. It currently plans to build casinos in Columbus and Toledo.

Should racetrack VLTs become a reality in Ohio, the Columbus market would have three gaming facilities: a full-scale casino, Beulah Park, and the Scioto Downs harness track. That scenario has led to speculation PNGI may have other plans for the Beulah Park racing license.

PNGI operates 19 casinos in 15 jurisdictions. Its other racetracks are Bangor Raceway and Hollywood Casino in Maine; Charles Town Races & Slots in West Virginia; Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course; Sanford-Orlando Kennel Club in Florida; and Zia Park in New Mexico.