PA Mini-Casino Auction Craps Out: No Bidders At $7.5 Million

Posted on September 4, 2019

Pennsylvania’s attempt to auction off additional mini-casino licenses has crapped out: there were no bidders before Wednesday morning’s Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s (PGCB) meeting.

That means an end to the auction process due to a sunset provision.

The state’s 2017 gambling expansion law had authorized the creation of up to ten mini-casinos.

However, just five mini-casino licenses initially sold at auction. The five casino auctions had generated $127 million.

No bidders for a new mini-casino license twice now

Bidding for the remaining five licenses stopped in April of 2018 when no one placed a bid, temporarily halting the bidding.

But the PA Legislature directed the resumption of the bidding in hopes of more revenue.

However, the legislature also increased the distance — 40 miles, rather than 25 miles — a new location could be to existing facilities. That made few populous locations viable.

Almost everything east of the Susquehanna River and in western Pennsylvania was off limits, according to an analysis done by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

No more auctions for the remaining licenses

Additionally, the legislature also directed that further attempts to auction mini-casino licenses end if there were no new bidders.

Only the owners of Pennsylvania’s 12 operating casinos and a planned 13th casino for Philadelphia were qualified to bid.

The minimum bid for a mini-casino license on Wednesday was $7.5 million.

Previous bid winners and the auction prices paid were:

  • Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing AssociationLLC, which operates Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, plans a satellite casino in vacant mall space in Springettsbury Township, York County. ($50,100,000)
  • Stadium Casino, LLC, which is building a Category 2 casino in Philadelphia, wants to construct a satellite casino in vacant mall space in Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County. ($40,100,005)
  • Mount Airy #1, LLC which operates the Mount Airy Casino Resort,  wants to build a satellite casino in Big Beaver Borough, Beaver County. ($21,188,888.88)
  • Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment Inc., which operates the Parx Casino, wanted to construct a satellite casino in Shippensburg Township, Cumberland County. However, geological testing may have ruled out that location. ($8,111,000)
  • Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing AssociationLLC was a successful bidder a second time and was awarded a Category 4 license on June 12, 2019, to construct a satellite casino in Caernarvon Township, Berks County. While the site is in Caernarvon, the area is generally referred to as Morgantown, which is actually a zip code sprawling through three counties. ($7,5000,003).
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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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