Updated: 4:50 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 | Posted: 2:03 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014

Lawsuit could stop Dayton racino construction

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Lawsuit could stop Dayton racino construction
Construction continues at Hollywood Dayton Raceway near Wagner Ford and Needmore roads in Dayton. By the fall of 2014, gamblers in southwest Ohio will have seven casinos or racinos vying for their hard-earned dollars. LISA POWELL / STAFF

By Laura A. Bischoff

Columbus Bureau

COLUMBUS —

The former owners of the Lebanon Raceway are suing to overturn a decision by the Ohio State Racing Commission to allow Penn National Gaming to transfer its live horse racing license from Toledo to Dayton.

If successful, it could block operation of the Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway, a racino that is currently under construction at Needmore and Wagner Ford roads.

Lebanon Trotting Club and Miami Valley Trotting Inc., which sold its Warren County-based horse track interest to Miami Valley Gaming and Racing, filed the lawsuit in May 2013. The case is pending before Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Colleen O’Donnell.

The Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce filed a brief in the case Thursday, saying the State Racing Commission decision should stand. “We want to see both tracks here, operating and successful,” said Chris Kershner of the Dayton Chamber.

A long-standing state law prohibited live horse racing tracks to be in the same county or within a 50 mile radius of one another.

The Ohio State Racing Commission in December 2012 approved a request to move the Lebanon Raceway to a new location within Warren County. Then in May 2013, the commission approved the transfer of the Toledo Raceway permit to Dayton, which fell within the 50-mile radius of the new Lebanon track.

Lawmakers passed two bills in 2011 and 2012 that expressly approved the relocation of existing racetracks within a two-year window and gave the Ohio State Racing Commission authority to approve or deny the transfers.

Under the sale agreement, the former owners of the Lebanon Raceway were to receive an additional $10 million from the buyers if no competing racino were within a 50-mile radius, according to an opposing brief filed in the case.

Opponents of the lawsuit note that money is the motive for the lawsuit and the old Lebanon Raceway was 33 miles from River Downs, another racetrack in the Cincinnati area and the new Lebanon track is 31.5 miles from River Downs, according to the brief.

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