Penn National conditionally extends Rosecroft racing contract

Penn National Gaming Inc.and the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association have agreed to a two-year contract extension that would keep live harness racing at Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George's County only if the General Assembly denies a casino license for nearby National Harbor, the company announced Tuesday.

Penn National would like to see Rosecroft chosen as the site for a sixth gambling location in Maryland, but the site faces stiff competition from backers of the National Harbor location.

Gov.Martin O'Malleyhas called legislators back for a special session that begins Thursday to consider adding a sixth casino, in Prince George's County, and allowing all casinos in the state to have table games.

Penn National's leaders have said they would continue to lobby Maryland lawmakers to approve a sixth casino license for Rosecroft, which is about five miles east of National Harbor, a convention and shopping center on the Potomac River south of Washington.

Under Penn National's agreement with Cloverleaf, harness racing would continue only if the General Assembly approves a sixth Maryland casino at Rosecroft — or if a sixth casino is voted down altogether.

"I hope our legislators will keep our futures in mind when they meet in special session and hope they understand that a casino at National Harbor kills Rosecroft," Sharon Roberts, executive vice president of the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association, said in a statement.

Penn National bought Rosecroft, which was in bankruptcy, last year at auction. The company agreed to purchase the track in 2007 but dropped its bid when the facility was not designated a slots site in a referendum the following year.

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