Application for Lawrence Downs lays out job, traffic, cost expectations

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The construction of a racetrack and casino in Lawrence County could result in nearly 1,400 temporary jobs, according to documents published Thursday by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

And within five years of construction, visitors to Lawrence Downs Casino and Racetrack could account for $131 million in annual spending, according to those same documents, and up to 1,847 "new direct employment opportunities."

The jobs and spending estimates were included in the casino license application filed May 31 by Penn National Gaming and Philadelphia-based investment group Endeka Entertainment. The two companies, now partners in the long-stalled endeavor, want to build a $160 million harness racing track and casino just to the west of New Castle.

That application was published in its entirety Thursday on the gaming board website, and is available at http://pgne.ws/nXDRJ.

The actual up-front construction job is expected to run $80 million -- other costs include licensing fees, financing costs, $17 million in fixtures and furnishings, and the costs of the slot machines themselves at $13 million.

The casino hopes to draw about 2 million customers a year, with the bulk of those -- nearly 1.3 million -- coming from the Youngstown, Ohio, and New Castle areas, and 600,000 coming from Cleveland and the rest of northeast Ohio.

A traffic-impact assessment included in the application suggested the casino and racetrack will result in heavier-than-usual traffic on Fridays and Saturdays, necessitating roadway improvements and new turning lanes on Route 422.

The application also included an ownership breakdown of Endeka Entertainment -- most of the partnership is made up of Philadelphia investors Manuel Stamatakis, Peter DePaul, Edward Snider and Thomas Leonard. But 10 percent of Endeka is owned by American Harness Tracks LLC, the Pittsburgh-based company that bought the Valley View Downs assets at a bankruptcy auction, then sold most of those assets to Endeka last autumn.

Investors in American Harness include Charles Long, Edward Long, Charles Nannicola, Frank Nannicola and Armand Nannicola (of Nannicola Bingo, an Ohio seller of bingo and raffle supplies), James Carna, Christine Biros, A. William Price and Steven Lewis.

Penn National, the nation's largest racetrack gaming operator, would be a minority partner in the renamed Lawrence Downs operation (formerly Valley View Downs), and would have two casinos within a few miles of each other once Lawrence Downs and the Penn National property near Youngstown, Ohio, are both completed.

businessnews - neigh_north

Bill Toland: btoland@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2625.


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