Slots licenses for Penn. tracks

Oct 3, 2006 6:10 AM

Pennsylvania’s first slots licenses that could lead to the installation of as many as 62,000 slot machines were awarded last week, ending months, if not years of political squabbling.

Five temporary racetrack/casino licenses were granted by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack in Chester; Penn National Race Course near Harrisburg; The Meadows harness track near Pittsburgh; Philadelphia Park thoroughbred track, and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, just outside Wilkes-Barre.

It’s expected that Presque Isle Downs, now under construction in Erie, will be granted a license at a meeting of regulators later this month. Permanent licenses probably won’t be granted until December or January.

Each of the tracks can install up to 5,000 slot machines.

Of particular interest to Magna Entertainment Corp. (MECA) was the license granted to The Meadows since the company had an agreement to sell the property to a partnership headed by Bill Paulos and Bill Wortman of The Cannery Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas for $200 million.

The agreement called for the partnership to turn over $175 million to Magna Entertainment on Nov. 3. Another $25 million will be paid when the permanent license is received.

The Gaming Control Board will address the applications of those seeking the seven stand-along slot licenses before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have been working on new legislation to modify the existing slots law. After months of closed-door negotiations, a Senate committee has drafted a bill that will be taken up by the full body within the next few days.