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Here’s Why You Haven’t Heard Much About Mini-Casino Plans

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Last year voters passed a gaming extension law that allows for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to auction the licenses for 10 new mini-casinos.

Each mini-casino can have up to 750 slot machines. If the mini-casino wants to operate table games, they will have to pay an additional $2.5 million on top of their winning bid.

The five auctions held to date have raised $127.7 million. The sixth auction had no bidders, and the round of auctions came to a close. It is up to the PGCB to determine the next steps, which could include opening up bidding to outside entities.

The gambling expansion law allows a new mini-casino license holder six months to submit specific site details and development plans to the PGCB for approval. Casinos may apply for a two-month extension.

Currently, no casinos have submitted details for approval. Following is an update on what we do know about the plans for the five new mini-casinos.

Penn National Gaming secures two mini-casino licenses

Penn National Gaming owner of Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course (aka Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, LLC) and two off-track wagering sites in York and Lancaster bought two mini-casino licenses. The Pennsylvania properties join a portfolio of 30 other properties nationwide.

Penn National secured the first and fifth licenses during the auction process. Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, LLC beat out four competitors with a staggering $50.1 million bid during the first auction on Jan. 10. Penn National selected Yoe in York County as the epicenter of the site.

Hollywood Casino at Penn National was the lone bidder in the fifth scheduled auction on April 4. It secured the location at West Cocalico Township in Lancaster County for $7,500,003.

The locations of the mini-casinos show Penn National’s desire to protect its flagship Pennsylvania property. It also continues its legal challenge to the constitutionality of the gaming expansion law.

The six-month deadline required Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, LLC to name the specific location for its site in Yoe by July 12. On June 27, it applied for and received a two-month extension.

As reported earlier, the latest speculation is Penn National is considering three parcels in Hellam Township off Route 30 for the York County location. The new date to watch is Sept. 12 to see exactly where the new mini-casino will be.

Stadium Casino nearing six-month deadline

The second auction held on Jan. 10 awarded a mini-casino license to Stadium Casino LLC. Stadium Casino beat out four competitors with a $40,100,005 bid.

The Stadium group secured their second casino license just days before they received permits to demolish the Holiday Inn at 900 Packer Ave and begin construction on its Philly Live! property.

Initial reporting said three counties are showing interest in hosting the new mini-casino:

  • Hempfield
  • Greensburg City
  • Derry Township

The location, just outside of metropolitan Pittsburgh, gives Stadium Casinos LLC a presence in Pennsylvania’s two major cities.

The deadline for submitting a specific site location and development plans is near. The next meeting of the PGCB is July 18.

Carmen E. Gonzales, director of communications for Live! Casino & Hotel told PlayPennsylvania, “There are no updates to share at this time.”

There is no indication from the company if it finalized its site choice or if it will be seeking an extension.

Mount Airy selects a yet-to-be-named a location

On February 8, Mount Airy beat out three other bidders by ponying up $21,888,888.88. The excessive eights in the bid may be a nod to its deal with 888poker to provide online gambling when it launches later this year.

Mount Airy selected New Castle in Lawrence County as its location. However, there is no confirmation of a specific site in the County.

The Butler Eagle, serving Butler County, reports a casino company approached local officials about the opportunity to host a casino, but an application is not currently on file.

On June 23, the New Castle News reported that “a location has been selected, but that it is subject to change.” A spokesperson for the casino said to expect further details in “the third quarter, possible September or October.”

Based on the information from Mount Airy, expect it to apply for an extension when its site details are due to the PGCB within the next month.

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Parx seeking sites in areas with no-casino resolutions

Sands initially won the February 22 auction but its site selection was deemed invalid because it overlapped with Mount Airy’s site.

Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, the operator of Parx Casino, benefitted from Sand’s misdeal. Parx came in with the second-best, and only other bid at $8,111,000 and selected the location of South Newton in Cumberland County.

Initially, Parx was eyeing Carlisle Borough for the specific site of its mini-casino. But the borough was less than enthusiastic about the prospect, and the City Council denied Parx’s request.

The latest reporting from Penn Live moves South Middleton Township to the top of the list. Meetings are taking place between Township Manager Cory Adams and Parx representatives “to gauge interest.”

Parx may be facing similar opposition in South Middleton that they did in Carlisle. The Township also has a no-casino resolution on the books.

Parx has until late August to provide its detailed site location and development plans to the PGCB.

Mum’s the word

One trend has surfaced while compiling information for this mini-casino update. It seems none of the casinos are in a hurry to recoup the millions they shelled out for their new licenses.

They are keeping details close to the vest and waiting until the last minute to cement their plans. The next news should come soon as Stadium Casinos is set to submit their information or request an extension.

About

Kim Yuhl is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about poker culture and the online gambling industry. A part-time member of the poker media since 2013, Kim recently sold her marketing business to write full-time while traveling around the world. You can learn more about her work and travels at kimyuhl.com.