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Penn National Has Winning Bid For Rosecroft

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Penn National Gaming Inc. submitted the winning bid for the shuttered Rosecroft Raceway on Friday for about $10.25 million in cash, edging out Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos in a three-way bid.

Michael Lichtenstein, a Potomac lawyer whose office handled the auction, said the company would submit another $3 million for the Prince George’s County harness racing track, if the Wyomissing, Penn.-based company gets a bond from the state.

Penn National co-owns Laurel Park, which is about 30 miles away from Rosecroft, and Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness Stakes, racing’s second leg of the Triple Crown. The company also owns the Hollywood Casino in Cecil County.

The sale must be approved by a bankruptcy judge. Lichtenstein said a hearing has been scheduled Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt before Judge Paul Mannes.

Penn National said the acquisition is consistent with the company’s strategy of diversifying pari-mutual operations and presence in key markets. The company also said its long-range plan will be to seek slot machines at the facility.

“We’re hoping the Legislature might consider allowing the issue of slots at Rosecroft to go to the ballot as it is considering other changes to the Maryland gaming law in light of the challenges facing the other remaining authorized zones,” the company said in a statement.

Any expansion of slot machines beyond five locations approved in a 2008 constitutional amendment will require approval by lawmakers and voters. The soonest a proposed expansion could end up on the ballot would be November 2012.

Gov. Martin O’Malley said his administration is looking forward to working with the new owner to restore 200 jobs at the facility.

“It is our hope that new ownership will bring relief to members of the community who share concerns about the vacant facility and its impact on surrounding neighborhoods,” O’Malley said in a statement.

The O’Malley administration outlined plans for legislation soon that will include provisions to help reopen Rosecroft, which filed for bankruptcy in June 2009.

The measure would allow harness racing tracks, like Rosecroft and Ocean Downs near Ocean City, to use up to $1.2 million each in racing purse supplements to defray operating costs, with approval of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The bill also would authorize the Maryland Economic Development Corporation, a private corporation established by the state to promote economic development, to lend up to $4 million to Rosecroft to have a 40-day racing schedule.

The money would be paid out of purse supplements. The loan would require the track owner to hire back former employees, recognize previous collective bargaining agreements and require the track operator to reinvest revenue in either operating or capital spending to benefit the track.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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