Deal makes Penn National biggest gaming operator in US

Company pays $2.8B for Pinnacle Entertainment

WYOMISSING, Pa. - What started out small is getting much bigger.

"We grew from a single race track back in 1972 to what is today the largest regional gaming operation in North America," said Eric Schippers, senior vice president of public affairs for Penn National Gaming.

“We're going to be paying $2.8 billion to acquire Pinnacle Entertainment, which will enhance our opportunities to be the largest regional casino out there," Schippers added.

The deal would increase Wyomissing-based Penn National Gaming's revenue stream by $2 billion, increase its employee roster from 19,000 to 35,000 and bring its total casino count to 41.

"We're getting into new states like Colorado, Louisiana and Iowa, which opens up all kinds of new opportunities as we diversify our portfolio," said Schippers.

The acquisition comes at a crucial time for the gaming industry as the "mini-casino" — officially called Category 4 casinos — auction awaits in Pennsylvania in the new year, and Penn National wants to adjust to a changing casino marketplace.

"Penn National is exploring opportunities to partake in the new Category 4 mini-casino licenses," said Schippers.

It also wants to flex its legal muscle.

"We are exploring our legal options, because, aside from the Category 4 auction process, there are some portions of the law that we think significantly would negatively impact us," Schippers explained.

But regardless, Reading is on the radar as a possible new casino location.

"The city of Reading. We've also looked in York. We've also looked in Chambersburg," Schippers said.

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