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Charles Town eyes another slots jackpot

September 30, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The owners of Charles Town Races & Slots are asking the state Lottery Commission for permission to add another 1,500 slot machines to the track.

Thousands of people stream into the thoroughbred oval to play slot machines every day, but many potential customers are not being reached, a track official said Thursday.

Patrons at times have to wait for a particular slot machine they want to play, said John Finamore, senior vice president of regional operations for Penn National Gaming Inc., which owns the track.

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"We need to address that," Finamore said.

If the Lottery Commission approves the additional machines, it means the track will be able to have 6,000 machines, Finamore said.

The Lottery Commission will hold a public hearing Oct. 26 at 9 a.m. at the Bavarian Inn and Lodge in Shepherdstown, W.Va., on the track's latest request for more machines.

If the request is approved, about 60,000 square feet of additional space will be added, Finamore said.

Although planning is in the early stages, Finamore said the addition would take about nine months to complete and hopefully would be ready by the end of next year.

The track also wants to build a second 2,500-space parking garage that hopefully could be completed by July 2006, Finamore said.

Finamore said it is important to meet the demands of patrons, but track officials have tried to make sure they do not over-build their facilities.

Slot machines are added about every 18 to 24 months and about 500 to 800 are added each time, Finamore said.

Track owners then monitor how quickly the machines are "absorbed," Finamore said.

The addition of machines occasionally has drawn opposition from some people who say the games wreck families and people's finances.

Track owners recently filed plans with Jefferson County planning officials for a 150-room hotel on the property.

Track owners said the $15 million hotel is needed because of a lack of motel space in the county. Track owners are proposing the hotel be built next to the Sheetz store at the intersection of Flowing Springs Road and East Washington Street.

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