Racing dates set in Austintown

AUSTINTOWN – Come November, horses will be at the post in Austintown. The Ohio Racing Commission on Thursday voted 4-0 to approve 21 live races beginning Nov. 24, a Monday, at Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course. Races will run through Dec. 27.

More race dates for the 2015 calendar year beginning in January are expected to be approved by year’s end, officials said Thursday.

The long-anticipated approval of the Austintown horse race schedule clears the way now for the next step before its planned November opening. That is, approval of a temporary video lottery terminal license by the Ohio Lottery Commission.

Bob Tenenbaum, spokesman for facility operator Penn National Gaming, said Thursday he anticipates temporary license approval within the next couple months.

A woman at the Ohio Lottery Commission confirmed the temporary license has not yet been issued, but was unable to give a timeline for review or approval.

VLTs are slot machine-like gaming terminals that are overseen by the Ohio Lottery Commission from a central location.

As per its recently approved agreement with the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Penn National Gaming will request 100 racing days for 2015, seeking to avoid any overlap with 2015 racing dates at nearby Thistledown in North Randall, Tenenbaum said.

William V. Crawford, executive director of the state racing commission said application for 2015 dates will be made by mid-August and generally are approved in December.

Crawford said he expects 2015 races at Austintown to run from January to April.

The facility is being built with more than 1,000 indoor, climate-controlled seats to accommodate spectators during the anticipated winter race schedule.