The End For Lawrence Downs?

Published: July 14, 2016 09:49 am EDT

A decade-plus long process to add another racetrack in Pennsylvania has ended for those backing the Lawrence Downs project after the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board voted unanimously on Wednesday to deny Endeka Entertainment a gaming licence.

“The decision is a death sentence for having a racino in Lawrence County,” John O'Riordan, attorney for Endeka Entertainment and partner Joseph Procacci, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Mr. Procacci is disappointed. He is evaluating his options.”

Procacci is the founder and CEO of Procacci Brothers Sales Corp., the largest tomato and produce distributor on the U.S. East Coast. He bought control of Endeka last year and took over the project, originally known as Valley View Downs. It was started by a group of developers, then spearheaded by a collaboration of Philadelphia businessmen under the Endeka name in 2012.

The 250-acre site for the racino in Mahoning Township is still owned by Procacci, as well as a state harness racing license. The Commission could make a decision on that license when it meets again later this month.

“I know there are some people in the middle of the state who would love to have this license,” O'Riordan said. “My gut tells me this is the end of the road for Endeka and this location.”

The Township reportedly invested $10 million on water and infrastructure to service the racino and its property. Without planned revenue from the project, the township is now having a hard time repaying that debt.

“We need it bad,” Commission Chairman Vito Yeropoli said about the racino project. “We need to get the thing done. If we don't, we're in trouble.”

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