Virus Concerns And Stock Dive Halt Mini-Casino Construction In Morgantown And York, PA

Written By Kevin Shelly on March 17, 2020
Construction on hold at PA mini-casinos

Construction of two Pennsylvania mini-casinos shut down today, Penn National Gaming, Inc. announced.

Hollywood Casino Morgantown was under construction from the ground up. Hollywood Casino York is set to open within a former Sears store in a mall in York County.

Statewide coronavirus shutdown cited for halting mini-casino work

Work was suspended “in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s call for a statewide shutdown of all nonessential business activities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” according to the corporate release.

When work might resume is yet unclear, as with many of the coronavirus closures.

‘Preserving liquidity’ as stocks plummet

On Monday, the company’s stock took a drubbing, dropping nearly 45% from $15.47 to $8.54, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal. Penn National’s stock price has dropped more than 64% in the 10 days since closing at $23.91 per share on March 6, according to the Business Journal.

The company is using $430 million in credit as a lifeline and the remainder of its $700 million revolving credit should preserve its “financial flexibility,” according to the Business Journal.

Jay Snowden, the president and CEO of Penn National Gaming, explained the company’s position in a statement:

“We fully support the governor’s effort to try to stem the tide of this unprecedented public health threat. We also believe it’s prudent to revisit any and all capital expenditure commitments in order to help preserve liquidity in light of the impact of COVID-19 on our business.”

Details of the Penn mini-casinos

The $111 million Hollywood Casino Morgantown had planned to open in November.

The $120 million Hollywood Casino York at the York Galleria Mall in Springettsbury Township was anticipated to open by year’s end.

Category 4 “mini-casinos” may operate up to 750 slot machines and as many as 40 table games.

Snowden added:

“We look forward to continuing to consult with the Governor’s office, as well as local, state and federal health authorities to determine when construction might resume. In the meantime, we appreciate the patience, understanding and support of our community leaders in Morgantown and York, as well as our local construction teams.”

Penn National is a major national gaming company

Penn National Gaming owns, operates or has ownership interests in 41 gaming and racing properties in 19 jurisdictions. They also have video gaming terminal operations with a focus on slot machine entertainment. Penn recently acquired a major stake in Barstool Sports.

Penn National’s properties feature approximately 50,000 gaming machines, 1,300 table games, and 8,800 hotel rooms. In addition, the company operates an interactive gaming division through Penn Interactive Ventures, LLC.

During the casino shutdowns, Penn still has its online Hollywood Casino app in operation. They plan to launch online sports betting in Pennsylvania later this year, through their Barstool Sports partnership.

The Cordish Companies also plans to build a 100,000-square-foot gaming, dining and entertainment mini-casino at the Westmoreland Mall in Hempfield Township.

So far, no word if the PA casino shutdown might disrupt rehab plans at that location.

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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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