Good news for MTR Gaming

Feb 20, 2007 5:31 AM

Good news on several fronts finally boosted the share price of MTR Gaming Group Inc. (MNTG) out of the doldrums last week. The per-share price on Friday hit $12.95, nearly 30% higher than the price insiders offered to take the company private in early 2006.

Helping push the share price was a court ruling in Pennsylvania that pretty much eliminated a challenge to the slots license the company received for its Erie harness racetrack. The property is scheduled to open on Feb. 28. All that is needed is final approval from Pennsylvania regulators whose lack of state funding has delayed constructive decisions.

Also providing hope for investors was a vote in the West Virginia House of Delegates on Friday that approves legislation granting existing slots licensees to expand their casino floors to include blackjack, roulette and other table games.

This was the first time the House had favored gambling expansion.

Now, the bill heads to the Senate where proponents not only have to seek approval but also need to persuade the senators to reduce its 35% tax on table game proceeds, as well as, reducing its multi-million dollar annual license fees.

In addition to MTR Gaming, the legislation affects Penn National Gaming Inc., and two privately-operated greyhound tracks.

Another beneficial announcement made by MTR Gaming last week was the agreement to sell its Speedway Casino in North Las Vegas to Mandekic Companies LLC. The latter group does not have a gaming license and will have to apply to the Nevada regulators before the deal can be consummated.

The sale calls for MTR Gaming to receive $18.2 million in cash.

At the end of trading on Friday, MNTG shares had risen to $0.47 for a closing price of $12.95 per share.