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Charles Town Races expansion delayed

August 17, 2000

Charles Town Races expansion delayed



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - An expansion project at the Charles Town Races to create more room for slot machines is requiring more work than expected, and the project may not be completed until the end of October, the track's president said Wednesday.

The former indoor paddock at the track is being gutted to make room for 500 slot machines for which the track received approval last year.

The machines are being kept in an enclosed tent in the track's parking lot.

The old indoor paddock was a sunken area where patrons could look down to view horses before each race.

When the project is completed, slot machines will be in the bottom of the old paddock area and gamblers will be able to look down into the gaming area, track officials said.

Track officials originally estimated the $8 million project could be completed by mid-summer, but now the completion date will be closer to the end of October, said track President Jim Buchanan.

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It is taking longer to do the work because Peter M. Carlino, the chairman and chief executive officer of track owner Penn National, wanted the ceilings in the gaming area to be higher, Buchanan said.

That meant more dirt had to be dug out of the area, Buchanan said.

Construction crews have been pouring concrete floors for the new gaming area and on Wednesday, air conditioning units were being installed, Buchanan said.

The fiber-optic lines that will link the 500 slot machines with the state Lottery Commission in Charleston have not been installed yet, Buchanan said.

The 500 machines that will be moved into the former paddock area were approved for the track last September. The track recently asked the Lottery Commission for permission to add another 500 machines, which will give the track a total of 2,000 machines.

If those 500 machines are approved, they will be moved into the tent when the others are moved into the newly renovated area, Buchanan said.

Next Friday at 9 a.m., the Lottery Commission will hold a public hearing on the track's request. The hearing will be held in the county meeting room beside the Jefferson County Courthouse on Washington Street.

Following the hearing, the Lottery Commission will hold its regular meeting at Charles Town Races at 11 a.m.

Other expansion efforts are also being considered by the track.

The oval has filed plans with the Jefferson County Planning Commission office to build a 50-space parking lot near the Sheetz convenience store along U.S. 340. The parking lot is mostly designed to make it more convenient for horsemen to get in and out of the track, Buchanan said.

The track is also considering moving the receiving barn close to the new parking lot, Buchanan said.

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