The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 1, 2014

Penn National Gaming receives slots approval in Mass.

By Amy Friedenberger
Reading Eagle

— The Massachusetts Gaming Commission announced Thursday that Wyomissing-based Penn National Gaming Inc. will be offered its first slots parlor license, more than two years after Massachusetts legalized Las Vegas-style casino gambling.

The commission spent three days deliberating and discussing the three applicants competing for the license, and regulators voted 3-2 for Penn National’s proposal in Plainville, Mass.

“We are thrilled and extremely grateful for all the exhaustive work undertaken by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in reaching its decision in favor of our $225 million proposed slots only casino in Plainville,” Tim Wilmott, president and CEO of Penn National Gaming, said in a statement. “We are currently reviewing the Gaming Commission’s conditions but don’t see any major areas of concerns.”

The other two candidates for the license were Cordish Cos., which received two votes, and Raynham Park, which did not receive any votes.

Penn National proposed to renovate and expand the Plainridge Racecourse. The site would feature 1,250 slots, a Doug Flutie-themed sports pub, an upscale restaurant and four food court options. The site would have 1,620 parking spaces.

On the opening day, the commission provided the highest score in its in-depth assessment of each project’s financial strength, and Penn National tied with a proposal by Cordish Cos. for the highest rating in the second category, building and site design.

According to the summary, the Penn National proposal “provides an integrated design approach marrying the existing harness racing venue and simulcast with the slot parlor in a well-developed concept.”

Commission Chairman Steve Crosby, who evaluated the three proposals as a whole, graded Penn National’s project as sufficient and ranked it second out of the three proposals. Cordish ranked first.

The slots license will cost $25 million, and the slot parlor will pay a 49 percent state tax on gambling revenue.

Penn National also is one of five companies vying for the casino license in Philadelphia, which it hopes to receive to build a $480 million Hollywood Casino. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has not announced a date for when the state’s 13th license will be awarded.