11/26/2010 3:06PM

Pinnacle Entertainment to buy River Downs for $45 million

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The casino company Pinnacle Entertainment has an agreement in place to purchase River Downs for a reported $45 million, Pinnacle Entertainment has reported in a press release published on its web site. The release went on to say that the sale of the Cincinnati track was expected to close in the first quarter of 2011.

Among the Pinnacle holdings are seven casinos, including Belterra, located about 50 miles southwest of the track in Florence, Ind.

The sale means all three Thoroughbred tracks in Ohio will be owned by casino companies. Thistledown near Cleveland is owned by Harrah’s Entertainment, and Beulah Park in Grove City is owned by Penn Gaming.

Current River Downs general manager Jack Hanessian referred all inquiries to Kerry Andersen, director of communications and public relations for Pinnacle, who did not immediately return a phone message. Hanessian manages the track for River Downs Jockey Club Inc., a California-based investment group that has owned the track since 1975. River Downs was founded in 1925.

Ohio tracks currently are in limbo as to whether they can permit slot machines on their properties. The Ohio Lottery Commission asked the state’s judiciary to issue a legal opinion on the issue in July.

– Marty McGee