The Cleveland casino was expected to open March 2012 and the Toledo casino was expected to open April 2012. Those dates may have to be pushed back. The problem is the required background checks. With the Cleveland casino, the process was delayed when Rock Ohio Caesars contended that employees of casino vendors should not be subject to the background checks. Eventually the application was filed in December, but the state is now uncertain they will be able to complete the background checks by March. Spectrum Gaming Group, one of the consultants hired to advise the Ohio Casino Control Commission, has stated that at least 4 months are required to complete the background checks, a process that normally takes 9 months.
With the Toledo casino, Fortress Investment Group, a New York LLC that is a holding company for Penn National, has refused to submit an application for background checks on its board of directors. The Ohio Casino Control Commission contends that individual board members, as well as the entity, are subject to background checks. The entity has submitted its application.
Recently, HB 386 was introduced to Ohio’s lawmakers. Among its provisions is a change in the definition of a holding company. The new definition states that a holding company must have an ownership stake and voting rights of at least 5% in a company. Penn National maintains Fortress would fall below the 5% threshold. But it is unclear if legislators will pass this bill before the holidays recess next week.