ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania’s foray into legalized casino gambling will mark an important milestone on Nov. 14, when the first of as many as 61,000 slot machines statewide are scheduled to begin whirring and ka-chinging at a horse racetrack outside Wilkes-Barre.

The Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, one of five racetracks to be awarded casino licenses by state gambling regulators last month, announced Monday that it will be first out of the gate to open a slots parlor.

“I think there’s a feeling not only of relief but excitement that we’re able to move forward and we have an actual opening date that is not too far off,” said Pocono Downs chief executive officer Robert Soper.

The Mohegan Indian tribe of Connecticut, owner and operator of the Pocono Downs harness racing complex in Plains Township, spent $70 million on a 40,000-square-foot slots parlor. It includes two gambling floors with 1,083 machines and a food court, bar and patio.

The lineup will include 500 reel games, 450 video machines and video poker, in denominations ranging from a half-penny to $100 for the high rollers. The first shipment of games arrived at Pocono Downs on Monday morning, from WMS Gaming Inc. of Waukegan, Ill.

Soper predicted the casino will draw most of its gamblers from northeastern Pennsylvania, but also from New York and New Jersey.

“The bulk of our new customers will be slot players who currently do not wager on horse racing,” he said. “We plan to try to market horse racing to these new customers in hopes that some of them … enjoy it.”

Pocono Downs has hired 400 people to staff the casino.

The tribe plans a second phase of development that will nearly double the number of slot machines and add retail shops, a nightclub and other amenities.

The parlor’s Nov. 14 opening date depends on the successful completion of two private-invitation test events on Nov. 10 and 12, Downs officials said.

The state Legislature has authorized as many as 61,000 slot machines at 14 venues statewide. Officials plan to use some of the gambling revenue to fatten racetrack purses and boost the state’s equine industry.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on Sept. 27 unanimously awarded conditional licenses to five tracks. In addition to Mohegan Sun, licenses were given to Philadelphia Park in Bensalem; Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack; Penn National Race Course near Harrisburg; and The Meadows in suburban Pittsburgh.

A sixth track – Presque Isle Downs, under construction near Erie – is likely to hear about a possible license later this month.



On the Net:

http://www.poconodowns.com


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