TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - The opening of the Hollywood Casino Toledo could be delayed because of a paperwork issue, according to the Ohio Casino Control Commission. On Friday, the state agency said was drafting a "strongly worded letter" to one of the Casino's investors to disclose required background information, or face a possibly delay in the casino's opening.
"We can't approve the license, until we receive full disclosure and do due diligence," said Peter Silverman, Toledo attorney and Commissioner on the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
Silverman said Fortress Investment Group, a Penn National Gaming, Inc. Investor, has not fully disclosed required information. The company has fulfilled its obligations, but individuals within the company are also required to disclose background information including personal, work and criminal histories.
"The law is based on organized crime. As a commission, we are designed to make sure no one with anyone kind of bad reputation is involved with the casinos. So we require everyone who has anyone kind of controlling interest, which the statues define, to disclose all kinds of things about them," said Silverman.
Silverman said he believes the individuals are intentionally withholding the information.
"I think probably the individuals who are directors of this massive hedge fund don't like to give out personal information. They think its ridiculous that states require that. But if you invest in a casino, that's the real world. They are fairly heavily regulated," said Silverman.
A spokesperson for Penn National Gaming, Inc. said the disclosure issue should not threaten the casino's Spring 2012 opening.
"We still are confident that we are going to be able to move forward, without a delay," said Bob Tenenbaum, spokesperson for Penn National Gaming, Inc.
Tenenbaum said Fortress Investment Group owns just one-half of one percent of the company and Ohio's disclosure laws are too stringent.
"It simply makes no sense to make them go through the very rigorous and very involved process of doing the full background investigation and disclosure because they have no influence at all over penn's gaming operation," said Tenebaum.
Ohio lawmakers are debating newly introduced legislation that, if approved, would ease disclosure requirements. Tenebaum said Penn National Gaming, Inc. is in support of that legislation, and is now waiting to see what happens with it.
"We think it simply makes sense that Ohio's regulations be in line with all of the gaming jurisdictions around the country, and that you don't force people to go to a great deal of effort when they're really not involved in the operations of the casino in any way," said Tenebaum.
Penn National Gaming, Inc has not set a specific date for Hollywood Casino Toledo's grand opening, but says April 1st, 2012 is a rough target date.
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