The trial of Penn National’s claim against Columbus and Franklin County over water and sewer rights was to have begun last Monday. Both parties requested a delay. On Tuesday, an out-of-court settlement was reached.
On the surface, things appear to be looking up for the Columbus casino. A closer inspection of the terms reveals that the ride may still be a little bumpy.
Terms of the deal:
Penn National will annex the casino site from Franklin Township to the city of Columbus; Columbus will pay Penn National $15 million to help with environmental cleanup and road improvements. The city is expected to recover the $15 million from tax revenues that the casino will pay once it is operational.
But there are three contingencies that must be met by a court-imposed deadline date of June 10, when both parties are expected to report back finalization of the settlement:
- Penn National must receive an offer of at least $11 million to purchase its former casino site in the Arena District. They believe a buyer is lined up, possibly Nationwide Realty Investors;
- The lawsuits between Penn National and The Columbus Dispatch Printing Company must be dropped. What is unclear is whether the lawsuits must be dropped entirely by June 10 or if the settlement agreement is enough to satisfy the contingency. Steven Tigges, attorney for The Columbus Dispatch Printing Company, has stated that he doesn’t believe their lawsuit will be dropped before annexation occurs, a process that could take 4-6 months;
- The settlement agreement must be approved by Columbus City Council and Franklin County Commissioners. No problems expected here.
If all goes well, the Columbus casino could open by late 2012.