04/26/2012 10:06AM

Retama Park: Majority share in track bought by Pinnacle Entertainment


Pinnacle Entertainment, the casino company that owns River Downs in Ohio and six casinos in three states, has reached an agreement to purchase 75.5 percent of Retama Park outside San Antonio, Texas, the company said on Thursday.

Pinnacle is paying $22.8 million for the majority share in the company that owns the track’s racing license, a subsidiary of Call Now Inc. With the stake, Pinnacle will gain a foothold in a state where tracks and casino lobbyists have long sought legislation to legalize casino gambling at racetracks, though those efforts have so far been unsuccessful.

Retama, which annually holds a Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse meet, opened in 1995, and it has failed to generate a profit in any year of its operation. The track filed for bankruptcy in March 1996. The track’s property is owned by the Retama Development Corporation, a company set up by Selma, the city where the track is located.

The transaction is subject to approval by Texas regulators. Pinnacle said that the transaction includes $7.8 million in the purchase of debt held by Retama, and another $15 million in cash to refinance the track’s existing debt and to provide working capital.

Texas has three major Thoroughbred tracks. In 2010, Penn National Gaming Inc., a major casino company, bought half of Sam Houston Race Park in Houston. Lone Star Park, which is outside of Dallas, was purchased in 2011 by Global Gaming, a subsidiary of the Chickasaw Nation, a casino operator and the owner of Remington Park in Oklahoma.