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More On Rosecroft Sale

Published: January 31, 2011 10:56 am ET

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Penn National Gaming bought Rosecroft Raceway for $10.25 million last Friday, and plans to restore live harness racing to the track this year.

Eric Schippers, Penn National’s senior VP for public affairs and government relations, issued this release Friday after Penn outbid Peter Angelos, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, for the shuttered track.

“We are very pleased to have been selected as the winning bidder for Rosecroft at today’s bankruptcy hearing, which is subject to the final approval of Federal Bankruptcy Judge Paul Mannes, who is expected to act next week. As the largest owner and operator of pari-mutuel wagering facilities in the nation, this acquisition is consistent with Penn National’s strategy of diversifying our pari-mutuel operations and presence in key markets with assets that can benefit from the placement of gaming devices. Once receiving final approval, we look forward to working with the standardbred horse owners and the Maryland State Racing Commission to develop a plan to resume live racing at Rosecroft this year. Our long range plan, as it remains for Laurel Park, will be to seek slot machines at Rosecroft, which will help to revitalize Maryland racing and generate important new revenues for the state. We’re hoping the Legislature might consider allowing slots at Rosecroft to go to the ballot as it is considering other changes to Maryland gaming law.”

Final approval by Judge Mannes is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday in U.S. district court in Greenbelt. Both legislature and voters would have to act to clear the way for slots at Rosecroft, with a November 2012 ballot date the likely earliest the issue could be considered.

Support from Maryland governor Martin O’Malley was quickly forthcoming, with an announcement saying he was looking forward to working with the new owners to restore 200 jobs at the track. His office also said it plans to introduce legislation that would allow Rosecroft and Ocean Downs in Ocean City, Maryland, to use up to $1.2 million each in purse supplements to defray operating costs, and would open the way for the Maryland Economic Development corporation, a private enterprise established by the state, to lend up to $4 million to Rosecroft, to be paid in purse supplements, for a 40-day meeting.

According to reports, the loan would require the track to hire back former employees, recognize previous collective bargaining agreements and require reinvestment or revenue in either operating or capital spending to benefit the track.

(Harness Tracks of America)

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