Ohio Panel Conditionally Approves Racetrack Sale

By John Kady

The Ohio Racing Commission has conditionally approved the sale of Scioto Downs, a Columbus Standardbred track, to MTR Gaming, owner of Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort in West Virginia.

MTR Gaming announced late last year it had paid $19.1 million for Scioto Downs. On April 11, MTR Gaming said the approval also is subject to certain officials and employees receiving licenses, and the filing of a report with the racing commission once the purchase is completed.

The deal is expected to be finalized this summer. Edson "Ted" Arneault, chief executive officer of MTR Gaming, Edward Ryan, chief executive officer of Scioto, said in a joint statement: "The merger will enable us to capitalize on our combined management strength and mutual understanding of the market to further build Scioto's business and produce improved operating results."

The Ohio House of Rrepsentatives enacted a two-year budget bill that contains a temporary one-cent increase in the sales tax. It would be taken off the books if Ohioans vote to legalize video lottery terminals, which the House wants on the November ballot.

The budget bill must also pass the Ohio Senate and be signed by Gov. Bob Taft, who has said he opposes racetrack VLTs.

Scioto is located about 2 1/2 hours from Mountaineer. MTR Gaming last year was licensed to build Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa. That facility would be located about 1 1/2 hours from Mountaineer.