[toc]Municipalities in Pennsylvania are lining up to opt-out of the forthcoming satellite casinos in the state. There is a specific process for communities to opt-out of hosting a casino. However, the nature of the law means these communities may not be immune from having a satellite property near them.
PGCB releases opt-out protocol
When it comes to these satellite casinos, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) wants communities to be safe rather than sorry.
The steps are twofold. First, the municipality needs to conduct a public meeting and adopt a resolution. That resolution needs to include specific terms and stipulations. Those are available on the PGCB website.
Once the local government passes te resolution in a public meeting, there is an additional step. The municipality must send a copy of the resolution to PGCB before the end of the year.
Many communities quick to say no to satellite casinos
The list of communities who notified PGCB is already growing by the day. The Allentown Morning Call started compiling a list of communities who completed the resolution and paperwork and are now free from hosting a satellite casino.
The communities are as follows:
- Heath Township in Jefferson County
- Limestone Township in Lycoming County
- Lower Makefield Township in Bucks County
- Strasburg and West Earl townships in Lancaster County
- Washington Township in Lycoming County
- Westfield Township in Tioga County
Other municipalities are scrambling to host the requisite public meeting before the year wraps. For example, the anti-casino contingent in the Gettysburg area is scrambling to put something together quickly.
There is a similar opt-out procedure available for counties who do not want to participate in offering video gaming terminals (VGTs) at truck stops. PGCB is tracking and publishing a list on its website along with the satellite opt-out locations. So far, no county has opted out.
The municipality approach makes it difficult to avoid satellite casinos
Note that the opt-out process is only done at the municipality level. Pennsylvania contains over 2,500 different municipalities, broken down into four categories.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania is comprised of 67 different counties. If you do the math, you realize that there are several dozen municiplaities in a single county.
Now consider how relatively small each county is from a land perspective. So, if one municipality in a county opts out, there is no guarantee another municipality in the same county opts in. Then, the community who wants nothing to do with a casino could still have one just a few miles away.
Be aware several counties are not eligible for satellite casinos though. The nature of the law creates a buffer zone around areas that already have casinos. So, some areas might want a satellite casino, but are not eligible.
This is why Penn National, owner of Hollywood Casino, is worried. Most casinos operate on the east and west ends of the state. Hollywood Casino is alone on an island in central Pennsylvania. With overlapping buffer zones protecting the competition, the company says the law discriminates against them. As a result, they are considering suing the state.
Hollywood has until year’s end to try to rally the communities near it to meet and opt out of satellite casinos. Otherwise, they very well could be facing quite a bit more competition come 2018 and beyond.