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WYOMISSING, PA-Locally based Penn National Gaming cleared the final hurdle that stood in the way of its long-planned acquisition of Alton, IL-based Argosy Gaming Co. On Friday, Sept. 30, the Illinois Gaming Board voted to approve the deal on condition that Penn National enter into an agreement to sell two Illinois Argosy properties within 15 months of completing the Argosy buy.

Penn National says it expects to close on the $2.2-billion buyout today. Even without Alton Belle Casino and Empress Casino Joliet in Joliet, this transaction elevates Penn National to the third largest gaming company in the world, topped only by Las Vegas-based Harrah’s Entertainment and MGM Mirage.

In addition to absorbing Argosy’s seven resort and casino operations, which will be pared down by two, Penn National is constructing a $240-million slots facility at its Penn National Race Course in Grantville in hopes of obtaining one of the 14 licenses to be handed out the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. It also plans a $139-million slots facility at its racetrack in Bangor, ME, and is in the process of rebuilding Casino Magic Bay St. Louis and Boomtown Biloxi, two Mississippi properties that were severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

Full-year 2004 net revenues for the company exceeded $1.1 billion, and income from continuing operations was $213.7 million. With the Argosy acquisition, revenue is expected to double.

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