04/21/2011 4:04PM

Penn National Gaming's net revenue jumps

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Penn National Gaming Inc., one of the largest operators of racetracks and casinos in the United States, had net income of $51.5 million in the first quarter of 2011, up 42 percent compared with first-quarter income of $36.2 million in 2010, according to financial statements released on Thursday.

Revenue in the quarter was $667 million, up 12.6 percent compared with revenue of $592.3 million in the first quarter of 2010, according to the statements. The figure was boosted by stronger revenue at several of the company’s properties, including the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia, where revenue was up 35.5 percent in the quarter compared with last year, and at the company’s casino at Penn National Race Course in Pennsylvania. Both casinos installed table games last summer following legalization of the games earlier in 2010.

Operating expenses for the quarter increased well below the rate of revenue growth, at 8.9 percent, from $500 million to $544.3 million. Interest expense also fell, from $34.3 million in the first quarter of last year to $29 million in the first quarter of this year.

In April, Penn National completed the formation of a joint venture that owns 50 percent of Sam Houston Race Park in Texas, along with a dog track in Harlingen, Texas, and land that could be used to build a racetrack in Laredo. In a conference call on Thursday to discuss the first-quarter results, Penn’s chief executive, Peter Carlino, said the company plans to lobby the Texas state legislature aggressively to add a ballot issue that would allow voters to legalize slots at Texas tracks.

Penn owns racetracks and casinos in 16 states and one Canadian province. Its racetrack holdings include Charles Town, Penn National Race Course, Zia Park in New Mexico, and a 49 percent share in Laurel Park and Pimlico in Maryland. Penn officials have said they are attempting to unwind their investment in the Maryland tracks.