Casino Antes Up For Arena

The owners of the Rivers Casino agreed Oct. 8 to pay $2.3 million rather than face fines from the Gaming Control Board stemming from a dispute over timing of payments toward a new arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Holdings Acquisition Co. agreed to make a payment to the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority, which is building the $325 million Consol Energy Center. A licensing condition requires the casino to pay $7.5 million for 30 years to help fund the arena and the payment deadline recently passed.

The casino’s owners, who rescued the stalled project from possible bankruptcy last year, have said they believed the first payment wasn’t due until at least next year.

The arena is scheduled to open for the 2010-2011 season.

Holdings Acquisition, which made the payment a day after the Gaming Control Board’s investigation and enforcement bureau recommended action against the casino, called it a “gesture of good will” while it negotiates final payment dates with the SEA, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Two Pennsylvania state senators on Oct. 8 reportedly added language into a proposed bill legalizing table games that would suspend Rivers Casino’s license and appoint a trustee to run it if payment was not received by Oct. 25. Casino officials told the paper the decision to make the $2.3 million installment had nothing to do with either the gaming board’s threat of fines or the proposed legislation.

The casino and SEA have reportedly been wrangling for months over the timing of arena payments.