Over 1,000 Municipalities Say No To Mini Casinos

Written By Jessica Welman on January 5, 2018 - Last Updated on October 17, 2022
Just Say No sign at protest

[toc]New Year’s was more than just a day to reflect and celebrate for towns in Pennsylvania. It also marked the deadline to officially opt out of being a host community for one of up to 10 new satellite casino properties in the state.

The list of towns who opted out is not short. All told, more than 1,000 municipalities opted out before the deadline. With so many towns saying no, one has to wonder which towns will say yes to one of these new properties.

Over 40 percent of PA towns officially opted out

With around 1,030 municipalities opting out, that means over 40 percent of the 2,560 municipalities will not be taking part in the upcoming mini casino auctions. The full list of municipalities that opted out is available on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board website.

Looking at the list of municipalities, a couple of trends emerged. For example, most of Philadelphia opted out. Additionally, the entirety of Lancaster County opted out.

In Philadelphia, the presence of SugarHouse, Parx, and the forthcoming Philly Live! casino project might have the area feeling pretty saturated on the casino front. In Lancaster, there is an off-track betting parlor operated by Hollywood Casino owners Penn National. The area is also well known for its Amish communities, which are tourist attractions in their own right.

Opting out cannot fully protect a municipality

The opting-out process was at the municipal level. With so many municipalities in the state, that means just because a township opted out does not mean it is immune from having a satellite casino nearby.

The names of these municipalities can be confusing too. Here is a good example:

The City of Reading is vocally courting gaming companies to come to the city and build a mini casino. However, Reading Township is one of the municipalities that opted-out. The city of Reading is the fifth-largest city in the state. The township is a much smaller, not to mention roughly 75 miles away.

Several neighborhoods in Reading did opt out of mini casinos though. Some of the surrounding municipalities include:

  • Borough of West Reading
  • Wyomissing Township
  • Penn Township

Another example of nearby towns with differing interests of municipalities near Penn State University. While the Borough of State College opted out, College Township is exploring the possibility of a mini-casino in the local mall.

All but two host counties say no to VGTs

Satellite casinos are not the only thing Pennsylvania communities are quick to opt of if given a chance. All 12 of the counties with existing Pennsylvania casinos had the option to opt out of allowing video gaming terminals (VGTs) at truck stops. Of those, 10 took advantage of the option.

One that did not is Rivers Casino’s home county, Allegheny. This is not entirely surprising given that state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler was one of the most outspoken supporters of VGTs last year.

Lady Luck Nemacolin’s host county, Fayette County, also chose not to opt out. This one is a little more interesting, especially considering reports from gaming experts suggest the small Lady Luck property is particularly susceptible to VGT competition. Not only is it one of the smaller Pennsylvania casinos, it is also more remote than other properties in the state. As a result, the 25 mile buffer zone around casinos is not as imapctful.

With the first mini casino auction less than a week away, it will not be long before Lady Luck and other casinos will learn where some of this new competition will go.

Photo by igor kisselev / Shutterstock.com

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Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman has been a key voice in the legal betting industry since the repeal of PASPA in 2018. She contributed to and formerly managed several Catena Play-branded sites including PlayPennsylvania, PlayTenn and PlayIndiana. A longtime poker media presence, Jess has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for WSOP.com.

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