WYOMISSING, PA-Buoyed by the integration of its $2.7-billion buy of Argosy Gaming Co. in fall 2005, Penn National Gaming Co.’s first-quarter revenues nearly doubled in comparison with the same quarter a year ago. In this year’s opening quarter they reached $569.2 million, up from $$289.3 million in first-quarter 2005.

“We had a great quarter…obviously showing the impact of our Argosy transaction,” said Peter Carlino, CEO of the locally based company, during a conference call. He reiterated the commitment to return Boomtown Biloxi and Casino Magic-Bay St. Louis to operation “as soon as possible.” Both were closed following damage from Hurricane Katrina.

Casino Magic will initially reopen with a 30,000-sf temporary casino in the former hotel’s lobby. Damaged areas of the hotel have been completely refurbished and will begin accepting reservations this fall. Boomtown Biloxi will reopen this fall with 1,100 slot machines and about 22 table games. Asked if the company considered selling Bay St. Louis, Carlino said, “I don’t expect we’ll sell,” although he expressed caution regarding the Gulf Coast, which he said “wasn’t growing before the hurricane hit.”

Asked if he would open a temporary slots facility at the Penn National racetrack in Grantville if a license were granted quickly, he said, “the rules haven’t been defined yet. We have opened a temporary track that could accommodate maybe 500 slot machines. But there’s a 1,500-unit minimum, so it would take a waiver to open there. We’re willing and anxious to get going, but the politics of it appear not to be settled. Let’s see how quickly the state can get this all together.”

The plan calls for a $212-million”racino” to be called Hollywood Casino at Penn National. It is one of seven racetracks in the state that are expected to obtain gaming licenses. Awards are to be granted before the end of the year.

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