Thursday, June 17, 2010 | 1:31 p.m.
CARSON CITY – Penn National Gaming has gained a small foot in the door in Nevada and is looking for opportunities to expand in the casino business.
The Nevada Gaming Commission gave final approval Thursday to Penn to buy 1 percent in Nevada Slots & Supplies, a slot machine distributing company in Las Vegas.
Peter M. Carlino, chief executive officer and chairman of Penn, said this gives the company the ability “to move quickly if we see the right opportunity.”
Now licensed, it would not have to go through another extensive background investigation by the state Gaming Control Board if it bought another business.
Carlino told the commission he “didn’t see things getting better but they are not getting worse” in the gambling business. He said the business was off 10-12 percent compared to before the national economic downturn.
Penn has 19 gaming and horse racing facilities in 15 states. It will open a new casino in Maryland in September. It will break ground in Kansas this year for a gaming enterprise and it has received two licenses to operate casinos in Ohio.
The company has 15,000 employees. When its plans are completed the company will be licensed in 18 states and Canada.
Asked about any problems with regulations in other states, Penn’s compliance chief Thomas N. Auriemma said it is serious in obeying the rules.
But he told the board about an $800,000 settlement in Illinois. In that state there is a list of “self-excluded” persons who have gambling problems. The company mistakenly direct mailed advertisements to these “self-excluded” persons promoting a casino.
The rule in Illinois is casinos may not market to these persons who put their names on the “self-excluded” list.
He said Penn is “largely non-union” but has some relationships with unions.