01/13/2005 1:00AM

Penn purses get extra $4M

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Penn National Race Course will advance $4 million to supplement purses in anticipation of the introduction of slot machines as part of a new seven-year contract with the Pennsylvania chapter of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.

The agreement, announced Thursday, was ratified by track management and representatives of the horsemen.

Penn National is among the sites in Pennsylvania eligible for a license to operate slot machines. Last July, Penn National Gaming announced its intention to spend approximately $150 million on a new slots facility on the grounds that is expected to open in 2006. A portion of its revenue will be used to further supplement racing purses at the track.

"Higher purses set the stage for better and more competitive racing, and that in turn helps to stimulate parimutuel wagering," said Richard Schnaars, Penn National's general manager and vice president.