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Rock Ohio Caesars announces agreement with Ohio to develop VLT facility at Thistledown Racetrack

8 June 2012

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Rock Ohio Caesars LLC (ROC) announced today it has reached an agreement with the State of Ohio to add video lottery terminals (VLTs) to Thistledown racetrack. The agreement also provides ROC the opportunity to relocate the racetrack through the development of a new combined racetrack and VLT facility in the Akron/Canton area at a future date.

The non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Office of Ohio Governor John Kasich requires ROC to pay a licensing fee of $50 million to operate VLTs at the current Thistledown location. The facility, which offers live racing from April through November and simulcast racing year-round, employs approximately 200 workers during the live racing season. Thistledown’s grandstand and one-mile oval track is located on 128-acres about 10 miles southwest of downtown Cleveland in the city of North Randall.

"We appreciate the sustained efforts by the Governor’s office, the administration and the entire legislature to holistically examine and define the state’s gaming landscape,” said John Payne, Caesars president, Enterprise Shared Services. “We’re in the preliminary stages of redesigning Thistledown’s grandstand to accommodate VLTs and update other features of the facility.”

Payne said ROC anticipates opening the VLT facility in spring 2013. Details regarding capital investment and potential designs are not yet available, but ROC anticipates the expanded facility could create hundreds of construction jobs and dozens of new Thistledown jobs while increasing attendance and purses for live horseracing meets.

The MOU also permits ROC to consider developing a new, permanent racino in Summit or Stark County with a minimum investment of $150 million and a $25 million relocation fee. ROC is currently reviewing its options for land and development opportunities along the I-77 corridor. “A new location is something we are contemplating but in the meantime we are excited to invest in Thistledown to make it a multi-faceted entertainment destination in Northeast Ohio.”

Per the MOU, a Thistledown VLT facility could be converted to a permanent facility if ROC does not move the track, provided the company meets the minimum investment requirements.

VLT installation, operation, and the potential relocation is subject to applicable laws and regulations, including approval and licensure through the Ohio State Lottery Commission, who oversees VLTs, and the Ohio Racing Commission, who oversees horseracing at the state’s seven racetracks. The MOU requires VLT operators to pay 33.5 percent of VLT revenues to the State. ROC expects to confer benefits to the Ohio racing industry through increased purses and will meet with the industry soon to discuss those opportunities. In addition, the agreement calls for ROC to pay a VLT sales agent application fee of up to $100,000 to the Ohio Lottery Commission.

ROC is a joint venture between Rock Gaming LLC and Caesars Entertainment Corporation. The venture successfully developed and opened Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, a full-service casino in downtown Cleveland on May 14, and will open Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati next spring. Caesars purchased Thistledown racetrack in June 2010, and plans to contribute the asset to the ROC joint venture this summer.

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Rock Ohio Caesars announces agreement with Ohio to develop VLT facility at Thistledown Racetrack is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.