04/01/2011 7:07PM

Penn National's Sam Houston deal gets state approval

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The Texas Racing Commission on Friday approved Penn National Gaming's licensing request for 50 percent ownership of Sam Houston Race Park in Houston. The approval also extended to Sam Houston's other entities, Valley Race Park, a greyhound track in Harlingen, Texas, and a yet-to-be-constructed track in Laredo.

Penn National is entering into partnership with Maxxam Inc., which had previously held sole ownership in the facilities. The 50-50 agreement between Penn National and Maxxam was announced by the companies in September, and the license application was submitted in December.

Penn National, a publicly traded company, is one of the largest casino operators in the United States. It has ownership interests in more than 30 facilities. The licensing approved at a commission meeting Friday is the first time Penn National has invested in Texas.

The state's racing industry has been pushing for legislative approval of gaming at the state's tracks, and had a march on the capital on Thursday.
Sam Houston is currently operating a meet for Quarter Horses.