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Mercer County Had Some Bad Beats, But Still Hope For A Mini-Casino

sneaker with gum on it

About a month ago, representatives from Mercer County thought they’d landed a whale of a client: Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.

Now, a month later, they’ve got no satellite casino and Sands doesn’t exist, technically. Yet county leaders and developers are doing their best to court casinos still in the running for the state’s final five satellite casino licenses.

Penn-Northwest Development Corp CEO Randy Seitz hopes his company will be involved in building a satellite. He also said that while hard luck has hit the county, there’s still hope of Mercer County landing one of the mini-casinos afforded under the gambling expansion bill.

“We’ve been sending letters out to major casino license holders and doing everything we can to let folks know that Mercer County has an interest in casinos,” Seitz told Mercer County newspaper The Herald.

Mercer had a satellite for a few hours

The hapless county’s satellite saga started in February at the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s fourth satellite casino auction.

The auctions happen in Harrisburg. All casinos interested in getting a license submit two vital pieces of information:

  • Their bid amount for a license and
  • The coordinates of where they want to build

At that fourth auction, Sands was the apparent winner. They submitted the highest bid and provided coordinates for a location that fell within Mercer County lines.

However, in what many consider and unfathomable blunder, Sands’ coordinates fell within a 15-mile radius of Mount Airy’s satellite casino in Lawrence County.

Thus, the PGCB announced that they’d invalidated Sands bid. instead, Parx’s ownership group, Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment Inc., won the fourth license.

Just a few weeks later, Sands’s ownership, Las Vegas Sands Corp.,  announced they intended to sell their casino for $1.3 billion. The buyer was Wind Creek Hospitality, a company affiliated with an Alabama Indian tribe.

So, Mercer County lost its satellite casino. Then the casino company that intended to build the satellite announced it was leaving the state. All within a month.

Small chance Mercer strikes a deal with Mount Airy

Of all the outcomes that Mercer could have predicted, an invalidated bid was probably at the bottom of the list right next to scoring a casino through Mount Airy.

However, Seitz indicated that he and Mercer County representatives would be happy to talk with Mount Airy about building the casino’s satellite in their county.

The idea here is that, while the majority of the 15-mile buffer zone around the casino’s bid is in Lawrence County, there is a portion of it that passes through Mercer County.

A new satellite, Seitz said, would be a great fit for the more than 6 million people who visit the county’s outlet mall.

“I don’t know if Mt. Airy is interested in a casino in or around the outlet mall, but if they are, we’ll gladly meet with them and discuss making Mercer County a casino location.”

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.