PNGI Purchases Option on Maryland Land

Penn National Gaming Inc. wants to build a slots parlor in Maryland.

Penn National Gaming Inc. said July 7 it has secured an exclusive 18-month option to purchase about 36 acres in Cecil County, Md., for the purpose of constructing a slot-machine casino.

PNGI would purchase the land from Principio Iron Co. The optioned parcel in Perryville along Interstate 95 near the Susquehanna River is part of an approximately 150-acre site that is the subject of a planned development by Stewart Associates, a real estate development company. Stewart Associates’ master plan includes mixed use retail, a hotel, and a visitors’ center, according to a PNGI release.

Maryland voters in November will decide the fate of a statewide referendum on whether to authorize up to 15,000 slot machines at five locations: the city of Baltimore and the counties of Allegheny, Anne Arundel, Cecil, and Worcester. Though the legislation doesn’t mandate racetracks receive a slots license, the apparent frontrunners for Anne Arundel County and Worcester County are Laurel Park and Ocean Downs, respectively.

Should voters approve the referendum, PNGI said it intends to apply for a gaming license and proposes to invest about $125 million to develop an entertainment center at the Cecil County site that would include 2,500 slot machines.

Last year, PNGI backed away from an option to purchase Rosecroft Raceway, a southern Maryland harness track, after it learned Prince George’s County, where the track is located, would not be eligible for a slots license. Rosecroft would only share in statewide slots revenue.

PNGI chief executive officer Peter Carlino said in a statement the company’s interest in a Maryland gaming facility is “consistent with the company’s long-term strategy to increase our scale and diversity in new and established regional gaming markets by leveraging our property development skills and financial resources. We intend to support Maryland’s November slot-machine referendum both financially and by educating voters on the potential economic benefits of new development in the state, as we are committed to building distinctive entertainment centers that create jobs, tax revenues, and other sustainable economic benefits for the regions where we operate.”

PNGI, based in Wyomissing, Pa., owns and operates Hollywood Casino at Penn National in Pennsylvania and Charles Town Races & Slots in West Virginia. The Charles Town facility draws heavily from neighboring Maryland.