The Pennsylvania mini-casino map has another dot on it. Penn National confirms it found a home at Springettsbury Township’s York Galleria Mall for one of its two Category 4 casinos.
The selection came after considering four locations throughout York County:
Eric Schippers, a senior vice president for Penn National, spoke about the company’s plans to the York Dispatch:
“Our hope is to locate our proposed Hollywood Casino York Category 4 satellite casino on the first floor of the former Sears store, which closed in August 2018. We believe this location, together with our second Category 4 license in Berks County, will provide us a great opportunity to generate new revenues in the commonwealth while protecting our existing market share in central Pennsylvania.”
Springettsbury Township has high hopes that the increase in foot traffic will help the struggling York Galleria Mall find a new life.
“On the whole, the board of supervisors will be pleased to hear this news,” Springettsbury Township manager Ben Marchant said in a phone interview Thursday morning. “It’s an encouraging development. We’re hoping it’s a catalyst for further revitalization of the Galleria Mall.”
Residents not thrilled Penn National is coming to town
Initially, Springettsbury Township opted out of hosting a casino. Officials re-evaluated the Township’s position and voted 4-1 to opt back in.
Residents began voicing concerns about Penn National’s choice of locations back in July. After a series of public hearings, it quickly became clear that the Township’s reversal did not reflect public sentiment.
In fact, not one resident spoke in favor of hosting the casino. It’s no secret that people generally do not like change. So, it is not unrealistic to expect vocal opposition to something that is likely to change the face of the community.
As part of the site-selection process, Penn National consulted with Econsult Solutions Inc. to study how the local economy and services would perform with a casino.
“The impact to the community is going to be tremendous,” said Mark Swomley, chairman of the Springettsbury Township board of supervisors, to the York Daily Record.
The report finds:
“The regional market draw of the casino is expected to have a net-positive impact on Springettsbury Township tourism.”
The area is already a regional destination thanks to the Harley-Davidson Factory Tour. The casino furthers its standing because of its proximity to restaurants, hotels and retail stores. All that translates into more spending at local businesses and more revenue for the town.
Of course, traffic improvements and upgrades to the utilities are necessary to accommodate the additional influx of cars and customers. Undoubtedly, the potential revenue will offset the required enhancements.
Hopefully, the report and the potential upside for the Township will help begin to change the residents’ opinion of their new neighbor.
Penn National going big on PA gaming expansion
With two mini-casinos on its mind, Penn National recently withdrew its lawsuit challenging the PA gaming expansion law.
Now the company plans to focus on using the gaming expansion law to grow its presence in Pennsylvania.
Besides the York Galleria mall location, Penn National will develop a second category 4 casino in West Cocalico Township, PA. The company is building on the Hollywood Casino brand with its York location. The second location is ideal to help protect Hollywood Casino from the other competition in the area.
Additionally, the company is preparing for sports betting and online casino gaming. Last month, it became the first company to file an application for legalized sports betting in the state.
The application stated the company would be ready to accept the first sports bet by the end of Sept. The timeline supports the desire to launch sports betting during football season. It appears to be a little unrealistic, however, but its partnership with William Hill means it is not impossible.
Penn National plans to file its official application for the York Galleria Mall with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) this week. A category 4 mini-casino can have 750 slot machines and 30 table games. More details about the company’s specific plans will be available with the application.