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More Than 130 Municipalities Have Said No Thanks To Satellite Casinos

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The last time we looked at the list of municipalities opting out of satellite casinos, the number stood at seven.

In the couple of weeks since then, the number got substantially larger. Now the list stands at over 130 townships.

There is still a full month for the remainder of Pennsylvania municipalities to opt out of satellite casinos too. The period to declare that a township is opting out ends when the year does.

Most townships in Lancaster and Chester counties

A reminder that, while counties can opt out of video gambling terminals (VGTs) in truck stops, the satellite casino opt-out has to be done at the municipal level. As a result, many towns may opt out, but still end up with a satellite casino nearby.

As the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s list of opted-out municipalites grows, some trends are emerging.

For example, the two counties where the most opt-outs are happening are Lancaster and Chester.

Lancaster County

If Lancaster rings a bell to those outside Pennsylvania, it is likely for the county’s tourism economy. It is about as far from casinos as one can get in the tourism industry. Lancaster County is Amish country.

Currently, the only gambling in the county is an off-track betting parlor operated by Penn National. The casino company is one of the more vocal opponents of the satellite casino expansion. In fact, the group is currently considering suing the state because its Hollywood Casino is not as protected as other casinos from satellite casino competition.

The city of Lancaster, the county seat, is one of the municipalities who opted out. Several other smaller communities with larger Amish and Menonite populations did as well.

Whether this is a move to preserve the area’s tourism industry, which focuses on the Amish and the area’s numerous covered bridges, is not clear. However that, as well as influence from Penn National, could explain the strong turnout in the county.

Chester County

Nearby Chester County is home to a number of Philadelphia suburbs. It is also, per capita, the wealthiest county in the state. With several casinos in the Philadelphia area, it would make sense that the Chester area does not see the value in adding more.

To be clear, Chester County is not the same as Chester, PA, which is in Delaware County and home to Harrah’s Philadephia.

Several areas staying loyal to their host casinos

In counties where casinos already exist, like Bucks County, home of Parx, townships are quickly opting out as well. For many communities, the tax benefits of the major casinos are worth preserving.

Take Montgomery County, for example. After receiving a seven-figure windfall from Valley Forge Casino thanks to the new laws, the county opted out of VGTs. They are the fourth county to do so, along with Washington, Monroe, and Northampton.

 Photo by George Sheldon / Shutterstock.com

About

Jessica Welman is the managing editor of PlayPennsylvania. A longtime poker media presence, Jess has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for WSOP.com.