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Track Sales, Proposals In Ohio

Published: January 17, 2011 1:36 pm ET

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Reports out of Ohio indicate that developers have unveiled plans for a racino/resort in Youngstown, and that the Ohio State Racing Commission has approved Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc.'s acquisition of River Downs Racetrack in southeast Cincinnati.

An article on explains that the Mahoning Valley Development Group is planning a $300-million complex which would include a racetrack, gaming area, 400-room hotel and resort, golf course, theatres, stores and restaurants.

Rick Lertzman, part of the Mahoning Valley Development Group, has said that the venture has funding in place from local and national investors. He said that the undertaking will be built on 200 acres, and that roads, water and sewer lines are already in place.

In regard to Pinnacle's acquisition of River Downs, officials with the company expect to take over the racetrack by the end of January in what will be a $45-million cash deal.

Pinnacle has announced that if the acquisition goes through, industry veteran Kevin Kaufman will be general manager of the racetrack. Kaufman, who most recently served as general manager of Pinnacle's Belterra Casino Resort in Indiana, will oversee all day-to-day operations of the racetrack, as well as the transition of the property into Pinnacle's operations. He will report to Carlos Ruisanchez, Pinnacle's executive vice president of Strategic Planning and Development, who led the company's initiatives to acquire River Downs.

"We appreciate the efforts of the Ohio State Racing Commission in their timely review and approval of our racing license application and look forward to completing the acquisition of River Downs Racetrack later this month," said Anthony Sanfilippo, president and CEO of Pinnacle Entertainment.

"The planned acquisition would position Pinnacle to benefit if video lottery terminals at Ohio's racetracks become operational. If VLTs become operational in Ohio, we plan to move quickly to invest in and revitalize River Downs to develop a new gaming, racing and entertainment destination facility for the Cincinnati market. We also continue to review and analyze other opportunities to expand our operating base into attractive markets by leveraging the liquidity and strength of our balance sheet for return-focused growth opportunities such as River Downs."

(With files from and Pinnacle Entertainment Inc.)

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