12/21/2006 12:00AM

Pennsylvania makes slot licenses permanent

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The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on Wednesday awarded permanent slot machine licenses to six racetracks and five stand-alone casino sites in the state.

The permanent licenses for the racetracks will replace the conditional licenses awarded earlier this year. A law legalizing slot machines at 14 sites in the state allowed for the awarding of conditional licenses in order to get casinos at racetracks up and running as quickly as possible, though the licensing process was bogged down by delays in creating enabling legislation and rules governing the machines.

The five stand-alone operators to receive slot-machine licenses were HSP Gaming and Philadelphia Entertainment and Development Partners, which will open two casinos in Philadelphia that will compete with Philadelphia Park's recently opened slot-machine facility; PITG Gaming in Pittsburgh; Mount Airy in the Pocono Mountains; and Sands Bethworks Gaming of Bethlehem.

The racetracks that had their conditional licenses converted into permanent licenses were Philadelphia Park; Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs; Presque Isle Downs, located near Erie; Hollywood Casino at Penn National in Grantville; Chester Downs outside of Philadelphia; and The Meadows, outside of Pittsburgh.

Only the casinos at Philadelphia Park and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs have opened. The other casinos are expected to open over the next several years.

The law allows for a maximum of 61,000 slot machines in the state.