Pennsylvanians will soon be able to play slot machines in their home state

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Slot Licenses as a Big Step to Gambling Markets

by Brian Thompson
2006-09-25 10:07:00
Pennsylvanians will soon be able to play slot machines in their home state

State gambling regulators are expected this week to give Pennsylvania's horse-racing tracks the permission to connect thousands of slot machines, the biggest step in two years toward making Pennsylvania one of the nation's busiest gambling markets.

On Wednesday, the seven-member Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is scheduled to vote on whether to grant conditional slots licenses to the state's six racetrack owners, which include the nation's largest casino operator, Harrah's Entertainment Inc.

To wrap around the gambling floors, the racetrack owners are spending over $1 billion to tear down old grandstands and rebuild them with steakhouses, spas and sports bars. The Mohegan Indians, who operate a huge casino in Connecticut, are shooting to open the first slots parlor in Pennsylvania. Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, in the state's northeast corner, could open its doors as early as November.

A temporary slots parlor in the renovated grandstand will house the machines until a more elaborate gambling hall can be built over the next two years. The rest of the racetrack owners expect to unveil slots casinos over the course of the next year. In December, the gaming board plans to decide whether to issue permanent slots licenses to the racetracks, as well as to pick from among 15 casino developers and established resorts that are competing with each other for seven additional slots licenses. A 14th slots license is set aside for whoever wins the state's final harness-racing license.

If his projection proves accurate, Pennsylvania would become the third-biggest commercial gambling state in the nation, behind Nevada and New Jersey and ahead of Mississippi and Indiana, based on 2005 statistics compiled by the American Gaming Association.

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