Casino Developer Sues Columbus and Franklin County

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Penn National casino files lawsuit against city of Columbus.(Photo: Faris (flickr))
Penn National casino files lawsuit against city of Columbus.(Photo: Faris (flickr))

The company that’s building a new casino on the city’s West Side filed a lawsuit in federal court this morning against the City of Columbus and Franklin County for withholding water and sewer services. WOSU reports the company claims it’s unconstitutional.

Penn National Gaming wants the court to order the city and county to provide water and sewer services to the casino site on Georgesville Road.

Columbus and Franklin County have refused to provide the services until Penn National agrees to annex the site to the city.

Penn National spokesman Bob Tenenbaum contended the city and county are treating the company differently from other local businesses. Tenenbaum cited the recent efforts from the city to keep Bob Evans in Columbus.

“In one case the city is providing many, many incentives to a company not to move out of the city; in our case they’re doing everything they can in effect to keep us from getting these jobs up and running,” he said.

Tenenbaum said the casino would bring 2,000 permanent jobs to the area.

He said Penn National agreed to annex the casino site to the city in exchange for tax incentives. But so far, Tenenbaum said the city and county are not on board.

“What we want is some assistance in making up for the losses which were very significant that which we suffered in voluntarily trying to be good corporate citizens, agreeing to move the site from the Arena District to the West Side. That was not something Penn National wanted to do on its own, but it did do it with the thought that it could be cooperative from the city. But we’d like to see some cooperation coming the other direction,” he said.

Tenenbaum said Penn National incurred more than $32 million in losses from the land it purchased for the original site of the casino, and from the money it spent on a campaign to move it.

The City of Columbus said it supports construction of a casino. But the city said Penn National must keep its promise to annex.

Franklin County officials declined comment at this time.

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