Lawrence County Gaming Facility Races Toward Reality

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Despite setbacks throughout the years, progress was made Friday on the proposed racetrack and casino in Lawrence County.

The project, formerly called Valley View Downs, has a new name and a new company to manage the facility. Penn National Gaming, along with Endeka Entertainment, announced they have submitted a proposal to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for a $225 million racing facility and casino near the intersection of state Route 551 and U.S. Route 422 in Mahoning Township, Pa.

Friday was the deadline for Endeka to establish financing for the project after being granted an extension in March. Penn National announced around that same time that it was in talks with Endeka to manage the Lawrence County facility.

“They’re a very  successful company and it’s a real positive sign for the community that they’ve chosen to partner with Endeka,” said Lawrence County Commissioner Dan Vogler.

Penn National Gaming, which will develop and manage the project, revealed a new name for the proposed project: Lawrence Downs Casino and Racing Resort. It will feature harness racing, 1,500 slot machines, 40 live table games and 10 poker tables.

Endeka Entertainment submitted its application for a gaming  license on Friday.

“There have been a lot of ups and a lot of downs.  This has certainly been an up for us and we’re excited, again we think not only for Lawrence County, but for the entire region. This will be a real economic shot in the arm for us,” Vogler said.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will now conduct background checks and hold public hearings in both Lawrence County and Harrisburg during the application process for the casino license, which could take around eight months.

“It’s going to mean a lot of jobs for the region and we’re very supportive of it,” Vogler said.

This joint venture will give Penn National one-third ownership in the facility. They also will be able to market both the Lawrence Downs and new Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course in Austintown. A groundbreaking ceremony for the Austintown racino was held Thursday.

In March, the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association pulled its support of the Valley View Downs project because members did not believe the project would come to fruition.

According to a news release from Penn National Gaming, it will provide the $50 million license fee bond and will fund $15 million through a loan. The company also will acquire a warrant to purchase a one-third ownership interest in the business.

“Endeka Entertainment is pleased to partner on this project with Penn National Gaming, the nation’s leading racing and gaming company,” said Manuel Stamatakis, the initial managing general partner of Endeka. “We are particularly pleased to bring this economic development project to Lawrence County as it will generate a significant number of new local jobs and other benefits.”

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