Town leadership is eager to have a mini-casino within its municipality. The residents of Springettsbury Township, however, are less accepting, strongly vocalizing their displeasure at a casino interfering on their turf.
In fact, the township initially opted out of allowing a casino to join the municipality but reversed course soon after.
When the calendar flips to November, everyone will have their say on the matter. It waas only after a 4-1 vote by the town council that they opted back in again.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) announced Tuesday that it will hold a “public input hearing” Nov. 1 inside the Springettsbury Township Municipal Administration Building. The purpose of the 10 a.m. hearing is to collect testimony on the Category 4 casino application submitted by Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, LLC, a subsidiary of Penn National.
PGCB wants input
Earlier this month, Penn National confirmed it had selected Springettsbury Township’s York Galleria Mall for one of its two Category 4 casinos. Local residents derided Penn National’s location choice, though Springettsbury Township manager Ben Marchant called the decision “an encouraging development.”
With conflicting receptions of the mini-casino, the PGCB opted to stage a public hearing as a way to listen to both sides before determining the viability of the casino.
The Gaming Act of Pennsylvania requires the hearing to be held within the local municipality of a proposed casino. As a result, York County parties both opposed and in support of the mini-casino will have a forum to speak their minds.
The PGCB also announced it has opened lines to accept oral and written testimonies ahead of the hearing. Essentially, those who wish to speak at the hearing must register beforehand via the board’s website. The PGCB will also make public its list of government officials, community groups, and individuals who have signed up to speak. The list will become available one week prior to the hearing.
A separate public hearing will take place in Harrisburg at a later date, when Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association representatives will offer arguments and answer questions from the PGCB before the board makes a licensing decision.
York County residents not OK with mini-casino
In an interview with the York Dispatch, Penn National senior vice president Eric Schippers indicated the mini-casino would sit on the first floor of a former Sears store. That location, Schippers said “will provide us a great opportunity to generate new revenues in the commonwealth while protecting our existing market share in central Pennsylvania.”
Marchant noted Penn National’s location choice is “encouraging” and that the mini-casino could be “a catalyst for further revitalization of the Galleria Mall.”
Yet local residents have remained staunchly against adding a mini-casino. Several public hearings featured a number of locals voicing their displeasure, while not one resident spoke in favor of Penn National’s decision.
An Econsult Solutions, Inc. study found that the “regional market draw of the casino is expected to have a net-positive impact on Springettsbury Township tourism.”
Still, residents remain opposed to a mini-casino.
In a July public hearing held by township leaders, citizens expressed their opposition, as reported by the York Daily Record.
“I don’t know why in the world,” one resident said, “the board would opt in to allow a casino in our wonderful township. … I think that’s just a huge mistake, period.”
Another resident pointed this out in his argument:
“If you had never opted in … we wouldn’t have this discussion.”