Penn National gets to bid for Mass. slots license

Owners of the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course near Harrisburg are hoping to latch ontoaplan to buildaPhilly casino that would be partially owned by the city. (Eric Mencher / Staff Photographer)
Owners of the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course near Harrisburg are hoping to latch ontoaplan to buildaPhilly casino that would be partially owned by the city. (Eric Mencher / Staff Photographer)
Posted: September 13, 2013

On its third try, Penn National Gaming Inc., which is based near Reading and is competing for a casino license in Philadelphia, secured a chance Tuesday to bid for the single slots license in Massachusetts.

Voters in Plainville, a town of 8,300 southwest of Boston, approved Penn National's bid to build a slot parlor at a harness track there.

"We're grateful for the overwhelming support expressed today for expanded gaming at Plainridge Racecourse," said Eric Schippers, senior vice president at Penn National Gaming.

Penn National's next steps are to file its harness racing application Oct. 1 and its application for a gaming license with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Oct. 4.

Penn National was almost out of the running in Massachusetts, where a 2011 law allowed one slots parlor and up to three resort casinos.

Last month, Tewksbury, Mass., rejected Penn National's bid. Earlier, Penn National tried to negotiate an agreement with Springfield, but MGM Resorts International prevailed.

The Plainville slots plan calls for a $200 million investment by Penn National, which operates 28 casinos and racetracks in the United States and Canada.

Tuesday's vote came amid a frenzy of casino development in the Northeast, even as states have been reporting declines in casino revenue.

As one of the nation's largest casino operators, Penn National is juggling numerous approved projects and proposals.

The Wyomissing company is spending $515 million to build two casinos at Ohio racetracks.

It has proposed a $700 million casino at Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George's County, Md.

In Western Pennsylvania, Penn National has agreed to invest in and manage a proposed $225 million casino and racetrack in Lawrence County. That project's financial backers include Philadelphia-area businessmen Manuel Stamatakis, Peter DePaul, and Ed Snider.

Penn National's proposed South Philadelphia Hollywood casino has a $480 million price tag.

"I hope they aren't distracted," said Joseph Fernandes, Plainville's town administrator.


Contact Harold Brubaker at 215-854-4651 or hbrubaker@phillynews.com.

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