New Pennsylvania Racetrack Granted Slots License

Presque Isle Downs, a Thoroughbred racetrack under construction near Erie, Pa., was awarded a conditional slot-machine license Oct. 25 and plans to have the reels spinning by mid-February 2007.

The conditional license was the sixth awarded by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. It came one month after the board distributed conditional licenses to five other racetracks, including Penn National Race Course and Philadelphia Park.

After the board's vote, Ted Arneault, president and chief executive officer of Presque Isle Downs owner MTR Gaming Group, which also owns Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort in West Virginia, said the facility would open with 2,000 slots. Live racing would begin in September.

The $250-million facility will feature five bars, a buffet, and a restaurant overlooking the racetrack, Arneault said.

Presque Isle Downs hopes to capitalize on Erie's attraction as a lakefront tourist spot and to extend its tourism season past summer with the lure of gambling and events like snowmobile racing at the track. He said he also hoped to hold outdoor concerts there.

The gaming control board is scheduled to vote Dec. 20 on whether to award up to six slots licenses to 14 applicants, and whether to award permanent licenses to the six racetracks.