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Arnold M. Knightly

Penn National gets gaming license approval

18 June 2010

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Penn National Gaming was granted approval for a Nevada gaming license Thursday, clearing the way for the gaming company to quickly acquire a Las Vegas casino if the opportunity should arise.

The Wyomissing, Pa.-based racetrack and casino operator received approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission in Carson City to acquire 1 percent of a small Nevada-based slot machine manufacturer and distributor.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Peter Carlino told regulators the company has spent a lot of time in Nevada looking to "weasel" its way into the jurisdiction.

"This is a precursor, I trust, to our coming here," Carlino said of the licensing approval. "We'd like to be prepared, and that's what this whole process is about."

The company has long been rumored to be interested in acquiring the Rio from Harrah's Entertainment or The Mirage from MGM Resorts International.

Penn, Harrah's and MGM have declined to comment on the rumors .

Penn National is mentioned as a possible bidder in the Station Casinos bankruptcy auction scheduled for August. Penn National also has been named as a possible suitor for the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, either as a buyer or as a manager for the Deutsche Bank-owned property.

Penn National did bid on the Fontainebleau Las Vegas before backing out of the auction for the suspended project last year.

Penn National operates racetracks and 16 casinos in U.S. cities other than Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The company is developing new casinos in Kansas, Maryland and Ohio.
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