Slot Casino

Penn National Gaming Inc. expects to start construction of the slot-machine casino at its Penn National Race Course in Grantville next week. The five-story, 365,000-square-foot casino will feature 2,000 slot machines when it opens during the first quarter of 2008 and could handle as many as 3,000 machines, Penn National said.

Penn National said yesterday it expects the project to cost about $310 million, including $50 million for the state licensing fee. That's 18 percent more than $262 million price tag projected when the casino plan was announced early last year.

The much anticipated project is expected to revive the racetrack, which opened in 1972. The grandstand has been demolished to clear the site for the Hollywood-theme casino.

Peter M. Carlino, chairman and CEO, said the higher estimate reflects a rise in costs for construction and materials and a refinement of the company's development plans.

Carlino said the company has "not ruled out completely" the opening of a temporary slot-machine facility before completion of the casino. However, he said the company's obligation to make a $10 million tax payment to local and county municipalities when the slot-machine facility opens would have to be clarified.

Carlino and other Penn National executives said the $10 million tax payment is required whether the casino is open for just a few months or the full year.