It's time for the would-be developers of a Lawrence County racetrack and casino to walk away from the table.
Valley View Downs and Centaur PA, two subsidiaries of the Indianapolis-based gambling company Centaur LLC, have a state license to operate the planned racetrack near New Castle and an application pending for a casino there as well. But the project has been beset by questions about its financing for too long.
Last fall, the parent firm put Valley View under federal bankruptcy law protection, and this month it added an Indiana racetrack and a Colorado casino to the Chapter 11 reorganization. Then last week Wells Fargo, which represents some investors in the project, asked for a court-supervised liquidation. The bank says Valley View Downs cannot be salvaged because Centaur can't get the $176 million it needs just for the initial phase of the track. Centaur maintains that the bankruptcy filings were necessary to preserve the project and continues to pledge that it will become a reality.
Pennsylvania homeowners, who are counting on casino revenue to reduce their property tax bills, have been dragged down this road before.
Detroit businessman Don Barden was awarded the license for Pittsburgh's only casino, but after numerous delays and setbacks, he and other investors were unable to build it, forcing the casino license to be transferred to a partnership led by Chicago developer Neil Bluhm.
There is little chance that Centaur will be able to cover the wager it made in its proposal for Lawrence County. It already got one extension from the state Harness Racing Commission but it's unlikely the company will get its track up and running before that September deadline passes. Prospects for winning the gambling license and building a casino are even more problematic.
Centaur should fold this hand and let give another gambler a seat at this table.