Casino Developers Wait for Federal Judge’s Decision

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Now that an annexation deal has been approved by county and city leaders, developers of a West Side casino wait to see if a federal judge will approve the agreement.(Photo: Dave Campbell (flickr))
Now that an annexation deal has been approved by county and city leaders, developers of a West Side casino wait to see if a federal judge will approve the agreement.(Photo: Dave Campbell (flickr))

Now that an annexation deal has been approved by county and city leaders, developers of a West Side casino wait to see if a federal judge will approve the agreement.

U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost will decide Friday if he approves the settlement agreed to by the city of Columbus, Franklin County and Penn National Gaming. If Judge Frost gives the OK, Penn National has to meet several contingencies by the first week in July. One, it must sell the original casino site for $11 million.

“That sale would have to be closed by July 5, although I believe there’s a provision in the settlement as approved by council and the county commission that would allow Penn National to seek an extension of about ten days,” said Penn National spokesman Bob Tenenbaum.

Tenenbaum said the Arena District property has a potential buyer, but he declined to give details.

Another stipulation, Penn National and the Dispatch Printing Company must each drop their lawsuits. Penn National counter sued the printing company after it filed suit to force them to annex.

Tenenbaum said the two parties are negotiating.

“This is about getting the project moving so that all of these jobs can be created,” Tenenbaum said.

Columbus City Council approved the annexation agreement Monday night and Franklin County Commissioners also voted unanimously to approve the deal.

Commissioner chair Marilyn Brown said she’s relieved the $400 million project will proceed.

“Everybody’s relieved that this is done and jobs will get going and certainly the construction industry is very relieved they can get moving,” Brown said.

Under the agreement, the city will provide water and sewer service to the casino site on West Broad Street. As a result of the annexation the city will garner millions of additional tax revenue each year.

The development is expected to create about 5,000 construction and permanent jobs. The casino is slated to open late next year.

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