PA Gaming Review: Mall Mini-Casino, Gambling Machine Crackdown, MLB Futures

Posted on February 12, 2020 - Last Updated on February 18, 2020

The last week’s been something of a grab-bag for gambling news out of Pennsylvania. For instance:

  • Can a mini-casino tacked onto a struggling mall save the retail businesses? Reactions range from hopeful to skeptical.
  • How is that there nearly as many unlicensed gambling machines in PA as there are regulated slot machines at casinos?
  • And which way are the early lines heading for the Phillies and Pirates as spring training begins?
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Taking a gamble, work moves ahead on reshaping vacant mall space

Think of it as a new retail and social experiment: Can a novel mini-casino save a struggling mall in the face of the collapse of brick-and-mortar retail?

The revamp of a vacant Sears retail space at the York Galleria Mall in South Central Pennsylvania’s York County may provide a partial answer.

For years the 31-year-old mall has shed customers, lost anchor stores, and seen smaller tenants vanish.

The mini-casino backed by Penn National Gaming should have 500 slot machines, no more than 30 table games, a sportsbook, and off-track betting space, as well as dining and beverage services.

But the casino, while attached to the mall, is without direct entrance to the retail space for security reasons. So many wonder, will it bring foot traffic?

The makeover should finish Oct. 9, with an opening to follow. Only time will answer how the casino and the mall work together.

PA resumes crackdown on unlicensed gambling devices

The state’s crackdown on unlicensed gambling devices slowly continues following a Jan. 21 court ruling, which lifted a ban on seizures of machines from one company, Pace-O-Matic (POM), of PA.

A temporary order shielding POM machines was lifted by the court, but no POM machines appear to have been taken since. The court specified that POM’s games, also called “skill games,” shouldn’t be explicitly or disproportionately targeted.

And the judge noted another previous court ruling had deemed some of POM’s devices legal. But the judge left the ultimate question of their legality open.

A final decision remains for another court or through future legislation.

Looking ahead to baseball

Nothing lifts a fan’s hopes like the still-perfect record of a home team as pitchers and catchers report for spring training.

Phillies pitchers and catchers reported to spring training in Clearwater on Feb. 11. A full team workout is set for Feb. 17. Pirates pitchers and catchers reported to spring training in Brandenton on Feb. 10 with a full team workout one week later.

The Phillies enter the 2020 season hoping to break the .500 threshold and once again make it to the postseason. The last time that happened was 2011.

The 2020 season will be the first for new Pirate’s president Travis Williams, general manager Ben Cherington and manager Derek Shelton. After finishing under .500 in three of the last four seasons, the Pirates had a shakeup at the top.

You can now bet MLB futures at PA sportsbooks, which have the Yankees, Dodgers, and Astros as favorites to win the World Series. The books set the Phillies’ wins on the year around 85 and the Pirates at 69.5.

Kevin Shelly Avatar
Written by
Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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