More delays are likely for the casino license approval for Lawrence Downs Casino and Racing Resort as “nontraditional financing” and new partners are expected to postpone the process for up to 12 months.
In a January 15th report to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, Cyrus Pitre, chief counsel for the board’s Office of Enforcement Counsel, said that while timelines imposed last year by the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission regarding the Lawrence County project are being met by Endeka Entertainment, “there are more unanswered questions now than a year ago,” according to New Castle News.
The construction of the state‘s only one-mile harness racing track along with a casino near the intersection of state routes 551 and 422 in Mahoning Township (Edinburg) Pennsylvania near Newcastle is being proposed by Endeka and its majority stockholder, produce magnate Joseph Procacci. And while Endeka currently possesses a harness racing license, racing and gaming licenses must be obtained by the facility through state agencies. The latter license could another 12 months to obtain, Pitre said.
In Pitre’s update he noted that Endeka was granted an extension by the harness commission on May 20, 2015, with six conditions to be met. While Pitre was limited in what information he was able to share, he did say that “major players” in the project, in addition to two of Endeka’s principals, Joseph Procacci, Philadelphia wholesale produce magnate, and Merit Management, included in Endeka’s application is one new individual and one new entity. He said its unknown what their relationship to the project is, but that neither has had dealings with the gaming board in the past.
Pitre linked the likelihood that more information on the individual and the entity will be required to the further delay of the licensing process. One positive, according to Pitre, is that most of the conditions set by the harness commission have been met by Endeka. He said that applications had been submitted in a timely manner by both Procacci and Joe Canfora and his organization, Merit Management of Chicago, both had been investigated and had prior dealings with the gaming board.
To speed the process, Pitre said, that rather wait until all the information is collected, the Bureau of Licensing is providing his Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement with information as soon as it gets it. He also said that the investigation of Merit Gaming and Procacci are “pretty much completed,” noting that two years ago the two were investigated when a gaming license for a casino in Philadelphia was applied for by them and five others.
The gaming control board meets next on February 10.