Group Approved of Final Racing License

A harness racetrack and casino in Lawrence County is one step closer to becoming a reality.

Since 2003, developers have been trying to get a track/casino in western PA’s Mahoning Township, but with numerous altercations, the project has been practically at a standstill.

In a special Tuesday morning meeting, the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission voted to approve American Harness Tracks the last of the state’s four harness racing licenses.

This comes as great news for officials in Lawrence County, as one of the commission’s regulations is that American Harness Tracks keep the project, formally known as Valley View Downs, at the proposed location just off Route 422 in Mahoning Township.

Another regulation the commission stated was that before any construction begins, the Pittsburgh-based company must first seek licenses from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to operate slot machines and table games.

This step, however, is when the former Centaur Gaming, which won rights for the license in 2007, fell out of the picture and eventually filed for bankruptcy.

It all happened in 2008 when Centaur began seeking the casino license – the Gaming Control Board declined to give them the license in time to meet a deadline in Centaur’s financing package, and the financing fell through.

That’s when American Harness Tracks bought the Valley View Downs project for $5.6 million from the Indianapolis-based Centaur Inc. in a bankruptcy auction in October.

The final regulation the commission stated was that American Harness Tracks must provide a management agreement to operate the facility and show proof of at least $150 million in financing for the project within 60 days.

Although the approval of the final license by the state’s Harness Racing Commission is a step forward, it by no means this project will be fulfilled.

This project will do wonders to the economy in Lawrence County, though. It was previously reported that the former Centaur project had estimated an addition of over 1,000 jobs in the area.

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