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Battle Brewing Over Racetrack Slots

14 December 2000

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "Buoyed by their success in Maine last month, anti-gambling forces are intensifying efforts to prevent the pari-mutuel industry from installing slot machines or video gaming at horse racing tracks throughout the East.

"...The next battleground appears to be New Hampshire, where the state faces a $200 million shortfall in education funding and where slot machines are being touted as the answer.

"...Penn National Gaming, a racetrack and off-track wagering operator, recently completed the installation of 2,000 slot machines at its Charles Town Races complex in West Virginia and plans to add more.

"Charles Town closed before it was resurrected with the addition of slots in 1997. Now the racetrack is one of the largest employers in Jefferson County.

"Not only do the slots provide additional state tax revenue, they also increase prize money at the tracks, said Joe Lashinger, Penn National Gaming's vice president and general counsel.

"...The slot revenue also boosts the pari-mutuel industry by providing more money to improve breeding of horses.

"...But it's not only the religious groups and other anti-gambling factions that have opposed slot machines in Pennsylvania. Southeast Pennsylvania provides a lucrative market for Atlantic City, and casinos along the Boardwalk do not want to see their share diminish because of slots.

"...The hard economic times of racetracks can be traced to the expansion of gaming in the East, particularly state lotteries and casinos. Atlantic City and tribal casinos such as Foxwoods in Ledyard, Conn., have cut into the once-robust pari-mutuel market..."

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