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Why an East Coast Firm is Spending $400M in SD

A tribe of the Kumeyaay Native Americans and a Pennsylvania gaming company are aiming to bring a little Hollywood to San Diego. And a bunch of slot machines and gaming tables.


Penn National Gaming just announced it will develop a Hollywood Casino-branded gaming venue on land controlled by the Jamul Tribe in San Diego County. Long in planning, and often controversial, officials recently completed grading at the site in prep for actual development. Penn National revealed details of the project in its latest SEC filing: a $360M, three-story, 200k SF gaming facility that will feature more than 1,700 slot machines, 43 gaming tables (including poker), restaurants, bars, lounges and an 1,800-space parking deck, slated to open by mid-2016. It will be on the Jamul Indian Village reservation—a six-acre site near El Cajon in Southwest SD County.


The JV arrangement comes with a sizable upfront financial stake for Penn National. The firm has arranged a conditional loan commitment to the tribe for up to $400M, "and anticipates it will fund approximately $360M related to this development." In turn, Penn Mutual will get to brand and operate the property for an undisclosed length of time. This is part of Penn National's ongoing transition that began in 1997 from a parimutuel company to a casino operator, led in recent years by CEO Timothy Wilmott (here). The firm is near completion with its Plainridge Park Casino in Massachusetts as well.