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Horsemen granted right to intervene in Philadelphia Park issue

6 June 2007

BENSALEM, Pennsylvania -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board today approved the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association's petition to intervene in a proceeding to consider a proposal by Greenwood Gaming, the owner of Philadelphia Park Casino and Racetrack, to have its temporary facility deemed permanent. The Horsemen had sought the ability to take part in the Gaming Control Board's consideration of Philadelphia Park's proposal, which is a significant departure from its original pledge to construct a new $300 million facility by the fall of 2009.

"We are pleased that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board granted us the ability to be a party to the consideration of Philadelphia Park's proposal," said Michael P. Ballezzi, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "Making the current conditions at the casino and track permanent would a be a disaster. Philadelphia Park made a commitment to the Commonwealth, to local residents, and to local governments that it would invest $300 million in a new facility that would spur economic development and create new jobs. They should not be allowed to back away from that commitment."

"Given the severe impact that Greenwood Gaming's reversal of its commitment to the community will have, I would hope community organizations and governmental entities on the local and county level will step up and seek to intervene in this matter as well," said Ballezzi. "Philadelphia Park's proposed changes will clearly impact tourism, economic development, job creation, and even local school and property taxes. In addition, Bucks County and Bensalem invested significant taxpayers dollars into road and transportation improvements that will benefit Philadelphia Park based on its promise to invest $300 million in a new facility. Greenwood Gaming's proposal will have far reaching implications."

Ballezzi noted that in addition to the larger public impact of Greenwood's proposal, the Horsemen are concerned about the impact on live horseracing in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association had agreed to the temporary relocation of track operations and betting to the fifth floor of Philadelphia Park while a new facility was constructed. The conditions, which Greenwood Gaming is now seeking to make permanent, have angered many patrons and resulted in declining betting at the track.

"Live horse racing at Philadelphia Park is down considerable, declining more than 26 percent in April compared to a year ago," said Ballezzi. "We just saw the largest drop off in betting on live racing at the track since slot machines were introduced. Philadelphia Park's method of implementing slots at the racetrack is damaging live horseracing, not helping us. This is not what legislators had in mind when they approved slot machines at racetracks."

Currently, Philadelphia Park only possesses a conditional gaming license. The award of a permanent gaming license is the major stick available to the Gaming Control Board to require casino applicants to make the financial investments in their facilities promised during the licensure process. By having the current facility deemed permanent, Philadelphia Park would remove the deadline to complete construction by a new facility by 2009. In addition, there would be no regulatory or legal mechanism to force Philadelphia Park to move ahead with the $300 million investment at any time in the future.

The Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association is a statewide organization representing owners and trainers at Philadelphia Park Racetrack.

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