[toc]While other towns can’t run from satellite casinos fast enough, Reading, PA welcomes the opportunity to bring a mini-casino into its locale for the sake of jobs and revenue.
With 10 mini-casinos up for grabs in the state, Reading officials told 69 News that they were interested because the city is a prime location.
“Right away, you would think Reading becomes one of [those] targeted areas because of our locale to all the other casinos,” Reading City Council President Jeff Waltman said.
The council unanimously voted to put themselves in the running for their own mini-casino.
Reading’s location is perfect to officials
To be part of the running, Reading has to ensure that its city is 25 miles away from any existing casinos. The mini-casino, also known as a Category 4 casino, would enable patrons to enjoy 300 to 750 slot machines. In the future, the mini-casino could also host up to 50 table games.
The Reading City Council is already speaking out publicly about said interest, but they approved a resolution Dec. 4 to push the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to approve a mini-casino in the city, reported Lehigh Valley Live. The vote potentially brings the city into bidding mode for future casino locations.
Distance from other casinos to Reading
- Valley Forge Casino Resort – about 40 miles
- Sands Bethlehem – almost 50 miles
- Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course – about 48 miles
- Harrah’s Philadelphia – about 67 miles
- SugarHouse Casino – about 65 miles
- Parx Casino – about 71 miles
- Mount Airy Casino Resort – 84 miles
Reading creating space
Mayor Wally Scott told 69 News that interested parties already have ideas about where the mini-casino should go. Two spots he references are Fifth and Penn and a spot between Fifth and Sixth Streets on Penn.
“The next step is they’re letting us know, come down, take a look at it. Whether they acquire the license or not, we’re in the running for it,” Scott said.
Residents told 69 News that they would go check out the casino. Moreover, they were excited about the proximity of the casino to their homes. Others were worried about drinking, gambling, and potential crime.
“With casino gambling, there are negatives, but I think the positives outweigh it,” said Sixth District Councilman John Slifko to 69 News. “It will spur downtown revitalization.”
Reading needs the economic growth
City Manager Glenn Steckman said the casino’s job creation supersedes any of the negatives that could come with having a casino in Reading. He points to economic development in other areas, like with Sands Casino in Bethlehem.
With a population of 88,057, Reading maintains a 39.6 percent poverty rate, reports Data USA. The overall poverty rate in the nation sits at 13.5 percent (as per the 2015 national estimate). The median age in Reading is 29.5, and the median household income is $26,784. The number of employees here is 31,761 and the median property value is $67,600. The area of the city alone is 10.13 square miles.
Reading vs. King of Prussia
Area Vibes gave Reading an “F” for crime, education, employment, and housing.
According to the site:
- Crime is up 60 percent comparatively to the PA average
- The graduation rate is 34 percent lower than the statewide average
- The median household income is almost 50 percent lower than the state average
- The median home value sits just below 60 percent lower than the state average
Its livability level from this site is 58, considered barely livable, and King of Prussia, the closest casino location, receives an 81 livability rating even with incredible population density (727 percent higher than the PA average with 19,919 people) and a high cost of living. The poverty rate in King of Prussia is 6.92 percent.
Other municipalities aren’t so excited
Reading appears to be one of few municipalities not jumping to meet and opt out of satellite casinos. The PGCB requires municipalities to follow opt-out protocol.
- Conduct a meeting
- Adopt a resolution
They must also do this before the end of the year. Most opt-outs come from Lancaster and Chester Counties.