Rosecroft Raceway bids include offers to split potential slot machine revenue

Tens of millions of dollars could be added over time

December 09, 2003|By Greg Garland | Greg Garland,SUN STAFF

The owners of Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George's County have received 10 bids to buy the harness track, with upfront payments ranging from $10 million to $25 million and offers to share potential slot machine revenue that could add tens of millions of dollars more over time, according to internal corporate records.

Gambling experts say Rosecroft, off the Washington Beltway near the Potomac River, is potentially the most lucrative site in Maryland for a racetrack casino if the General Assembly decides to approve slots at horse-racing tracks.

A summary of proposals, obtained by The Sun, showed bidders are offering to pay as much as 12.5 percent of the slots take to Rosecroft's owners for 10 or more years.

One indication of how much money is at stake can be seen in the bid by a group headed by Baltimore lawyer Louis Angelos, son of Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos. The younger Angelos' group offered to pay up to $190,000 a day from slots revenue, on top of its $10 million base bid.

Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association, a group of horse trainers, riders and owners, owns Rosecroft. Accordingly, each of the bidders included guarantees to race for a minimum number of days each year and assurances on the purses they would offer the owners of top finishing horses.

The highest base bid for the track's physical assets came from Las Vegas casino giant Harrah's Entertainment at $25 million. The next highest bid was $20 million by Isle of Capri Casinos based in Biloxi, Miss.

Other bidders include Penn National Gaming, which owns Charles Town Races & Slots in West Virginia; Magna Entertainment Corp., which owns Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park; Greenwood, a company that owns tracks near Philadelphia and Atlantic City; a group headed by prominent Maryland horse breeder Joe Thomson; Ralph Ross, a former owner of Arlington Park outside Chicago; a partnership of former Anne Arundel County Executive Robert A. Pascal and Carl D. Jones, a businessman with close ties to Prince George's County politicians; and the Northwind Ricigliano Partnership.

Thomas Chuckas Jr., chief executive officer of Cloverleaf Enterprises Inc., declined to discuss the bids, saying that information was supposed to have been kept confidential. He said Cloverleaf officials hope to select one of the bidders next week.

Chuckas cautioned that the base bid is only a part of the package.

"The purchase price is easily definable, but to determine the true value you really have to analyze each of the deals regarding days raced, guaranteed purses, purse supplements and future benefits," he said.

Chuckas said he is seeking the best deal for the owners and also wants "a company that genuinely cares about racing and wants to invest in racing to make it prosper and grow."

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