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LOUIS (KMOV.com) – Four local casinos will be impacted when Penn National Gaming, Inc. Pinnacle shareholders will receive $20 in cash and 0.42 shares of Penn National common stock for each Pinnacle share.

Monday morning, the companies announced they had entered into a definitive agreement for Penn to acquire Pinnacle.

The transaction was approved by both companies’ board of directors and is expected to close during the second half of 2018.“By combining our highly complementary portfolios and similar operating philosophies, we will be able to leverage the strengths of both our companies and create an unparalleled experience for our regional gaming customers, while generating significant value for our shareholders and business partners,” commented Timothy J.

Wilmott, Chief Executive Officer of Penn National Gaming, in a press release.

of Wyomissing has been a boss in the national casino gaming and horse racing field for nearly 50 years; 40 facilities in 18 jurisdictions across the U.

S., making it the largest regional gaming operator in the country.

Yet, and somehow, Penn National has not garnered as much publicity in five decades as it has it the last six weeks: First, for its October acquisition of Pinnacle Entertainment, a $3 billion purchase including 12 additional facilities to PNG’s portfolio, then for applying for two new Category 4 facilities in Pennsylvania (Hollywood Casino Morgantown, in Caernarvon Township, Berks County, and another in York at the one-time York Galleria space).

Now, very quietly, Pennsylvania's first legal sports-betting operation got going at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course — the PNG mothership or cornerstone — with its initial bets being accepted on Nov. “Our soft opening,” said Penn National Gaming’s VP of Marketing Fred Lipkin, using restaurant terminology, of the Nov. “And barely two weeks in, we’re already getting a feel for the new audience, with a younger demographic that's coming to that room, which is great to see," said Dan Ihm, Hollywood Casino's general manager.

How and why Penn National pulled off one of the most desired new aspects of casino gaming — the live sportsbook — at a time when other Pennsylvania casinos are chomping at the bit to start, says a lot about the nearly-50-year-old company.

“Our racetrack opened in August of 1972, and since that time and after the passing of casino gaming in Pennsylvania — we’ve rebuilt ourselves from the ground up,” said Lipkin, quite literally of tearing down the existing facility and developing a new, fully integrated race track/casino operation that opened in 2008.

When House Bill 271 passed in Pennsylvania in 2017 to allow i-gaming, sports wagering and BGT operations, Penn National not only jumped on the necessary traditional gaming licenses, PNG became the only casino operator in the state to run BGTs.

“The legislation allowed, under certain restrictions and criteria, up to five slot machines and video gaming terminals to be placed at truck stops in Pennsylvania in a partnership between the casino and the gaming company,” stated Lipkin.