What's the deal with Ted Arneault?

Written by Bill Toland on .

A year ago, Ted Arneault was "pressured" out of his job as president and CEO of MTR Gaming. And now, reports the Associated Press, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is looking into stripping him of his gaming license, which allows him to remain part of the state's casino industry:

"The man who helped bring a casino and racetrack to northwestern Pennsylvania is fighting to keep his license to participate in the state's gambling industry. Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board investigators are opposing Ted Arneault's application to renew his license and a public hearing on the matter is scheduled in March. Arneault headed MTR Gaming Group of West Virginia when it won a Pennsylvania casino license to build Presque Isle Downs & Casino near Erie. He left MTR in 2008. However, the board's Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement says it has found 'inaccuracies or inconsistencies' in Arneault's statements to investigators. Details were redacted from the bureau's Jan. 22 letter."

It would be interesting to read those redacted details, no? has some more details:

Arneault is no longer affiliated with Presque Isle Downs & Casino or MTR Gaming Group Inc., the casino's parent owner. Arneault left MTR on Oct. 31, 2008, when he was 61, after running the publicly traded corporation for 13 years. Even after departing MTR, he has continued his license renewal request, possibly indicating he wants to work for another gaming company in Pennsylvania.

The Gaming Control Board's Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement, citing concerns about Arneault's "character, honesty and integrity," wants the board to deny Arneault's license renewal application, according to a newly released Gaming Control Board letter.  The investigators also are raising the possibility that Arneault misled or lied to them during the application process.  The board's investigative and enforcement arm said a license denial is allowed if an applicant "furnished the board with false or misleading information," according to the letter, dated Jan. 22.

... A license denial would mean a remarkable setback for Arneault. While he was working on Presque Isle Downs & Casino, Arneault and his local developer, Erie real estate agent Gregory J. Rubino, became the faces of the $241 million project, appearing together at public forums and meeting with Gov. Ed Rendell, who pushed to legalize slot-machine casinos in Pennsylvania.

Three years after Presque Isle Downs & Casino opened, Arneault's license is in jeopardy. And the Gaming Control Board, for reasons it has not publicly disclosed, in 2006 banned Rubino from doing business with MTR and Presque Isle Downs & Casino as a condition of Presque Isle Downs getting a slots license. Rubino, who is appealing the ban, developed the casino project through a company known as Tecnica Development Corp., which had a multimillion-dollar contract with MTR.

If the name Greg Rubino doen't ring a bell, look here and here.  Last year, by the way, Ted Arneault sued his former employer, MTR, for forcing him -- or "tricking" him -- out of his job. This will get uglier before it gets prettier.

Dispatches from the border

Where will Pennsylvania's poker and blackjack dealers come from? Some of them will probably come from Atlantic City:

"Olawale Egunjobi recalled how he made $15,000 in four months while working as a dealer at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City. Now, he is collecting unemployment checks ... These days, the job prospects are in Pennsylvania. While Atlantic City’s struggling gaming halls continue to slash jobs by the thousands, a hiring boom is under way at the Pennsylvania casinos as they prepare to add table games this year to complement their slot machines."

... Is the mob still active in Atlantic City casinos and Philadelphia sports rackets?

... If the mob was still involved in the casinos, maybe they'd be doing a lot better:

"Atlantic City gaming revenues fell 8.5 percent in January to $294.2 million, the New Jersey city's 17th straight monthly decline. And that was the good news. In the past five weeks, Atlantic City's 11 casinos saw new competition emerge (table games in Pennsylvania and Delaware, slot machines in Maryland and New York) and two casino operators (MGM Mirage and Pinnacle Entertainment) begin planning their exit from the market ... Atlantic City is like the corpse in the movie 'Weekend at Bernie's.' It's being carted around in an effort to fool everyone that it's still alive."

... Not to pile on, but: "The sense of abandonment is palpable here. First, Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. announced Feb. 5 that it was selling the land it bought to build a $1.5 billion megacasino. Then, three days later, MGM Mirage declared it was putting up for sale its 50 percent stake in the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. The company had already shelved plans for a $5 billion Atlantic City casino resort next door."

Odds and ends

In Ohio, Cleveland is considering a "terporary" tent casino while the real one is built, in Cincinnati, they're leaning in the opposite direction ... Merely a trade group! No lobbying to see here ... As you might have guessed, the week of the big blizzard was not helpful in terms of revenues at Rivers Casino ... Is the proposed Columbus casino already getting the Philadelphia treatment? ... The protestors who blocked the Sugarhouse Casino construction site last year are now on trial ... Want to play the $2 blackjack tables in Atlantic City? Now you can -- but it will cost you $2.25 ...

Here's an update on the fellow whose horses were evicted from a Pennsylvania racetrack after one too many catastrophic breakdowns (meaning that the horses broke a leg or ankle and had to be put down). Or was it because he was winning too much?:

A leading Thoroughbred owner ejected from Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course has sold many of his horses and said he "doesn't mind getting out" of the business given the politics. Michael Gill, whose horses were ordered off the grounds of Penn National by the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission Feb. 2, continues to race at Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack in Pennsylvania. Gill said he anticipates that situation won't last much longer; he was ordered to attend a meeting with PHRC officials Feb. 23. ...

"They can't have me keep racing at Philly," Gill said Feb. 15. "While I'm running at Philly, it's an embarrassment. Why are jockeys riding my horses at Philly (if they are a safety risk)?"

Gill, the 2009 leading owner by races won and earnings with more than 2,200 starts, was boycotted by members of the Penn National riding colony. The action began Jan. 23 after one of Gill's horses fell at the wire, and other horses and riders had to avoid the fallen horse.

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