09/04/2013 2:49PM

Penn National Gaming buys option to purchase Plainridge Racecourse


Penn National Gaming Inc. has purchased an option to buy the harness-track Plainridge Racecourse in Massachusetts, conditional on the company’s efforts to secure the lone license in the state available for a slot-machine parlor, the company announced late Tuesday.

The effort is the third by Penn National to secure a gambling license in Massachusetts, where casino developers are battling over three full casino licenses as well. Penn had earlier attempted to win a casino license in Springfield and the slots license in Tewksbury, but both efforts were unsuccessful.

Financial terms of the agreement to purchase the option were not disclosed.

Plainfield’s current owner, Ourway Realty, was disqualified by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for the license earlier this year after investigators discovered during a background check that one of the track’s top officials was routinely making withdrawals from the track’s money room.

Prior to the background check, the city of Plainfield had reached a deal with Ourway that would pay the city approximately $4.2 million annually in “host-community” fees and property taxes. A referendum to approve the agreement is still scheduled for Sept. 10, despite the disqualification of the ownership group.

In a statement, Penn National said that it would honor the agreement reached by the former ownership group and would endorse the vote going ahead as planned.