The Ohio Senate Committee on Workforce and Economic Development held informal meetings in Dayton and Austintown. The committee is looking at the financial impact that a delay in construction would have on the local economy.
In Dayton, city officials, business owners and members of construction trades voiced their concerns over lost dollars and jobs. Horse owners and breeders meanwhile expressed support for the racing commission’s insistence on more indoor seating for the horse racing track.
In Austintown, during a two hour meeting, the committee also heard from city officials, local business owners, members of construction trades and members of the horse industry. Both sides implored legislators to do whatever it takes to get the project going. The sentiment was that Penn National Gaming and the Ohio State Racing Commission need to come to some sort of compromise.
Penn National Gaming did indicate that they would be willing, as a condition of getting a license, to revisit the seating issue after the facilities open. If attendance warranted, they would increase the number of seats. Another issue, that of the number of stalls, seemed less confrontational. The original plans called for 500 stalls. The Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association wants 1,500 stalls, but said that 1,100 would be reasonable. Penn National Gaming said this will get worked out.
The next opportunity for Penn National to plead their case may come at the Ohio State Racing Commission’s next meeting on April 16.