Just yesterday the settlement agreement entered into by Penn National and the city of Columbus back in May appeared to be off. Federal Judge Gregory Frost had imposed a July 19 deadline to agree to the terms of the settlement. There were two roadblocks. The original casino site in the Arena District had to be sold for at least $11 million and the lawsuits between Penn National and The Dispatch Printing Company had to be settled. Nationwide Realty Investors admitted they had been in discussions with Penn National about purchasing the Arena District site but no deal was struck. The Dispatch Printing Company had agreed to drop all legal claims, but Penn National wanted a guarantee that the publisher would not interfere any further with the construction of the casino.
With the deal appearing dead, what it meant was that the casino had no water and sewer service and the federal lawsuit filed by Penn National against Columbus and Franklin County was again open.
But this morning Penn National said they had agreed in principle to a settlement with Columbus that would drop the lawsuit, annex the casino site into the city and secure water and sewer services. Penn National is expected to petition for annexation on Friday. City Council would vote on Monday to verify water and sewer services can be provided to the casino site. A vote by Franklin County commissioners and a final vote by City Council will take place over the next several weeks. Penn National still expects to open the Columbus casino in the fourth quarter of 2012.
In other news, the Casino Control Commission has agreed to keep private the salaries of casino operators and other top employees making more than $150,000.