Penn National Gets Option on MD Parcel for Possible Casino

Penn National Gaming Inc. has secured an 18-month option on 36 acres in Perryville, Md., where it hopes to set up a slots casino and entertainment center. The price of the land was not released, but company officials said they would invest about $125 million in the project. The land is part of an approximately 150-acre site in Cecil County, Md., where Stewart Associates is planning a mixed-use development with retail, a hotel and a visitors’ center. The 36-acre parcel, owned by Principio Iron Co., is located along Interstate-95 and borders Pennsylvania and Delaware along the Chesapeake Bay. Penn National is betting that voters in Maryland will approve a statewide referendum in November authorizing up to 15,000 slot machines in the city of Baltimore, and Allegheny, Anne Arundel, Worcester and Cecil counties. If the referendum passes, Penn National, based in Wyomissing, Pa., intends to apply for a gaming license to operate 2,500 slot machines. The company would only buy the land if the referendum is approved. The announcement comes less than a week after Penn National called off an $8.9 billion merger with PNG Acquisition Co. When the proposed merger with PNG (an entity involving funds managed by Fortress Investment Group and Centerbridge Partners affiliates) fell apart, Penn National officials said they planned to use part of the $1.5 billion the company would receive to pursue other opportunities. CPN reported July 3 that Penn National will get a $225 million cash termination fee and $1.25 billion from the sale of redeemable preferred stock to Fortress and Centerbridge. Even though it had spent months getting approvals from various gaming commissions and boards where it has facilities and race tracks, Penn National decided the deal would not be able to close without a substantial amount of litigation. It also decided the re-negotiated acquisition price wasn’t acceptable. Peter Carlino, Penn National CEO, noted in a release this week that the firm wanted to educate voters in Maryland on the potential economic benefits of gaming entertainment centers. He said the Cecil County site is an ideal location for such development because it is close to Delaware as well as the Baltimore and Philadelphia metropolitan regions and would bring “direct economic benefits to the region and the state.” “Our interest in creating a facility in Maryland is consistent with the company’s long-term strategy to increase our scale and diversity in new and established regional gaming markets by leveraging our property development skills and financial resources,” Carlino stated. Late last year, Penn National reportedly decided not to buy Rosecroft Raceway, a harness racing facility in Fort Washington, Md., after the state did not include Prince George’s County in the slots referendum. Currently, the company’s portfolio consists of 19 properties with about 1,880 hotel rooms and over 930,000 square feet of gaming floor space in 15 jurisdictions in the United States and Ontario, Canada. It runs Charles Town Races & Slots in West Virginia, which has many Maryland visitors. It also owns and operates the Hollywood Casino at Penn National in Dauphin County, Pa.To Blog and Comment Click Here