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More changes proposed for Austintown racino project

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Penn-National Gaming was back before the Ohio Racing Commission today with revised plans for it's race track and casino in Austintown.

At it's last meeting, the commission requested that Penn-National come up with new blueprints that would increase the number of seats for race fans at the Austintown track

Penn-National's new plan would offer four tiers of clubhouse seating instead of two increasing the number of seats in the enclosed, climate-controlled area from 220 to 518. In addition, they would add outdoor bleachers with a capacity of 650 additional seats.

State Sen. Joe Schiavone, who was at the meeting, says the racing commission is doing it's job.

"They're looking out for the best interest of horse racing," he says. "They want as many seats out there, they want as many barns out there, so they're asking the tough questions of Penn-National."

Commission member Mark Monroe says before they grant Penn National a license transfer to operate in Austintown, they need to know exactly what their plans are.

"Clearly Penn-National is doing the best they can given their timeframe, given the financial considerations to address ourconcerns and for that we're grateful," Munroe says.

A spokesman for Penn-National says they hope this latest revision will clear the way for final approval because the timetable is getting short.

"By April, we are really hoping to be able to go full steam to hit our target of being open within 12 to 14 months after that," says Eric Schippers with Penn-National.

State Rep. Ron Gerberry, also at the meeting, believes Penn-National's proposal was favorable.

"I'm very optimistic that by the end of this month that transfer is going to take place and they'll be pouring footers real soon out there in Austintown," he says.

The commission will review the new plans and it's expected they could vote on the license transfer as early as next week.

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