PA Municipalities React to Mini-Casino Awards

Reaction of municipal officials within zones approved for a Category 4 mini-casino has been mixed, with some openly lobbying to host one of the satellite facilities.

There has been mixed reaction among local municipal officials in Pennsylvania about the prospects of hosting one of the Category 4 mini-casinos created by last November’s gaming expansion law.

Greenwood Gaming, the Parx Casino owner which won the fourth Pennsylvania license to open a mini-casino in Cumberland County in the south-central part of the state, told the website that it has not yet chosen a location for its casino, authorized to have a maximum 750 slots and 30 table games (pending a $2.5 million fee).

The 15-mile radius identified by Greenwood in its winning $8.1 million bid includes the cities of Chambersburg and Carlisle along the Interstate 81 corridor. Tourism officials in the area are bullish on the idea, but some municipal officials want nothing to do with one of the satellite facilities.

“A use like this fits right into our mission of creating jobs, increasing the tax base for our local taxing bodies, and increasing visitor spending,” Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp. chief Jonathan Bowser told PennLive. “I think it would just further diversify our tourism economy, which I think is a good thing.”

A member of the Carlisle Borough Council had a different take in an email to PennLive. “I do not believe it is all the sunshine and rainbows some make it out to be,” Sean Schultz said. “Casino games will detract from the small games of chance upon which many local nonprofits rely. Finally, I have seen the ravages that gambling addictions have inflicted on families, and I am unwilling to even indirectly take part in that.”

Meanwhile, municipalities in Western Pennsylvania have begun to lobby Stadium Casino LLC, which won the mini-casino license for Westmoreland County, to host the new casino. Potential host communities in that one include Greensburg, Hempfield, Unity and Salem townships.

“They all want it,” Hempfield Supervisor Rob Ritson told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We are more than willing to have a mini-casino in Greensburg,” that city’s planning director told the newspaper. And from Derry Township Supervisor David Slifka: “We have a good area. We feel it could work out for Derry Township and the casino people.

The communities all passed resolutions promoting hosting a Category 4 casino.

The next auction for a mini-casino will be held this Wednesday. The auctions are being held biweekly through May 16.