The plan to build a $250 million casino by the owner of Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack in Bensalem was unanimously approved today by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

The vote by the seven-member board came on the day the owner's conditional license expires. The company, Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment Inc., will now get a permanent gambling license.

For months, Greenwood and the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association were at odds over the company's commitment to build a new facility. The horsemen's group claimed the owner was trying to convert its conditional license to run the existing Bensalem facility into a permanent one.

Greenwood's casino plan met the horsemen's approval when it was first unveiled early last month.

The casino will include a 250,000-square-foot complex with 4,000 slot machines, a multipurpose entertainment center, sleek bars and high-tech cocktail lounges, and restaurants.

A key goal of the Pennsylvania gambling law signed by Gov. Rendell in July 2004 is to help the state's fledgling horse-racing industry. Seven of the 14 slots licenses were designated for racetracks.

Under the casino plan, the horse-racing tier of the existing grandstand at Philly Park will be renovated, and sections of the grandstand that are being used for gambling will be rededicated to racing activities.

Philadelphia Park has targeted groundbreaking for March on its new facility.

Contact staff writer Suzette Parmley at 215-854-2594 or sparmley@phillynews.com.