07/28/2010 3:43PM

Harrah's completes Thistledown purchase


Harrah’s Entertainment has closed its acquisition of Thistledown racetrack near Cleveland, from former owner MI Developments, Harrah’s said on Wednesday.

The acquisition will add another racetrack to Harrah’s holdings, which consist mostly of casinos. The company also owns Louisiana Downs, a racetrack and casino, and has a half-share in Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., south of Cincinnati.

In a statement, Peter E. Murphy, Harrah’s president of strategy and development, said that Harrah’s will work in the coming months to build support for measures that would allow slots at Thistledown and Ohio’s six other racetracks. The state’s lottery administration voted last week to ask a state judge to rule on whether the lottery can authorize slots at tracks under its own regulations.

Harrah’s won an auction in late May to purchase the troubled track for $43 million, the second time that the company had submitted the highest bid in an auction for the track. Last year, the track bid $89.5 million for Thistledown, but Harrah’s scuttled the deal under a provision that allowed the company to back out if certain conditions related to the overall gambling environment in Ohio weren’t met. – Matt Hegarty