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By Tom Barnes

HARRISBURG -- State Sen. John Wozniak has a new tactic in his ongoing effort to get a casino located somewhere in the Johnstown area.

Mr. Wozniak, D-Cambria, said he'll introduce legislation in 2011 designed to increase the competition for two as-yet-unawarded casino licenses, one now targeted for Lawrence County and another set for Philadelphia.

He said four years was wasted in an unsuccessful effort to build a Foxwoods casino in Philadelphia. Finally, the state Gaming Control Board last week revoked its license because developers couldn't get sufficient financing.

However, the state's casino law, passed in 2004, still guarantees that casino license for a site somewhere in Philly, and Mr. Wozniak wants to change that. He wants to free up the license for a site anywhere in the state.

Philadelphia has one casino open, SugarHouse, but the 2004 law, which was extensively written and influenced by state legislators from Philadelphia, guarantees the city two licenses.

Mr. Wozniak also wants to open up competition for a long-stalled racetrack/casino license that has been targeted for Lawrence County.

A would-be developer, Centaur Inc., had tried for three years to build that project, but has had ongoing troubles and finally gave up. Recently a U.S. Bankruptcy Court held an auction and a new group, American Harness Tracks, submitted a winning bid to acquire the land west of New Castle for the project.

But the new group still must get a racing license from the state Harness Racing Commission and then get a casino license from the gaming board, a process which will likely take months. Mr. Wozniak said he sees no reason why that license should be limited to Lawrence County.

"Limiting these two licenses to certain geography has been a costly disaster,'' said Mr. Wozniak, adding that delays on the two projects has prevented more money from going into a fund for property tax reductions.

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