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Caesars casino in Philadelphia under scrutiny after authorities close adjoining racetrack

28 January 2014

A casino in suburban Philadelphia operated by Caesars Entertainment Corporation could face closure by Pennsylvania gaming regulators after its adjoining harness racing track was shut down by state authorities.

Harrah’s Philadelphia, which is located in Chester, Pa., roughly 20 miles south of downtown Philadelphia, operates as one of five state-licensed racetrack casinos.

Last week, the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission suspended activity at Harrah’s Philadelphia, saying it had failed to resolve problems with the track’s surface. The track’s 2014 racing season is scheduled to begin March 8.

Under Pennsylvania law, a racetrack casino is required to maintain a “written live racing agreement with a horsemen’s organization” as a condition of the gaming licenses.

Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board spokesman Doug Harbach told the Associated Press the agency “will continue to monitor the matter closely.”

Caesars Entertainment Senior Vice President Jan Jones said in an email late Sunday the “issue will be resolved.”

Harrah’s Philadelphia operates as part of Caesars Entertainment’s Eastern Division along with the company’s four Atlantic City casinos. In 2013, the casino collected $310.87 million in gaming revenues according the control board, the fourth highest total of Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos.

According to the Associated Press, state racing regulators said Harrah’s Philadelphia has repeatedly failed to tell them how they plan to address problems with the track.

Drivers have complained about the track’s condition, especially in the wake of a serious crash in November in which a driver was thrown from his sulky and trampled by another horse when he landed.

The harness racing commission, which is part of the state Department of Agriculture, issued an order that said Harrah’s 2014 racing schedule will be suspended until the track complies with its demand for information.

Earlier this month, state gaming regulators fined Harrah’s Philadelphia $90,000 for two different violations.

The largest fine, $70,000, was leveled after the casino was charged with credit issuance violations. An investigation found the casino violated regulations and internal controls concerning credit between July 2010 and January 2013.

Harrah’s Philadelphia was fined $20,000 for permitting an underage female gambler to enter the casino, wager on slot machines and consume alcoholic beverages in April 2013.
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