Disinterest reigns supreme when it comes to satellite casinos in Pennsylvania, as more than 900 towns say no to playing host.
Pennsylvania is the latest state to pass legislation to see their gaming industry expand, with several new options on the table. One of the most exciting aspects of the gaming package that passed in October 2017 was the fact that the state approved online casino and poker gaming. On top of that, as many as 10 satellite casinos can be created. As part of the legislation passage, towns in the state had until December 31st to decide if they wanted to opt out of hosting one of the satellite casinos, or mini-casinos as they are often called, or host. As of last week, just over 900 areas had opted out.
It seems that legislators thought that there would be great interest in townships wanting to be host to one of the mini gaming venues. A casino can bring about revenues which can be used to help the local community. However, it seems a large portion of the state want no part in the gaming option. According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, 936 townships had voted to not be involved.
Starting on the 10th of this month, the Board will be holding an auction for licensing of the mini casinos. The 10 license holders of category 1 and 2 gaming venues will be able to submit a sealed bit in the hopes of being given licensing approval. The highest offer over $7.5 million will be accepted an be able to choose the location of the venue.
The 936 towns that decided to opt out create close to 37% of the total municipalities in the state. There is a stipulation within the legislation that states that satellite casinos cannot be created within a 25 mile radius of an existing casino. With those who opted out in consideration, the areas where such gaming venues can be created dwindles.
The city of Philadelphia and most surrounding areas are not interested in satellite casinos. Lancaster County saw each and every one of its 60 municipalities vote no. State College and Gettysburg are also out. The cities are not interested in hosting the smaller gaming venues which will be home to as many as 750 slot machines and 30 table games. For the satellite casinos to host table games, they must pay an additional $2.5 million in permit fees. This would be on top of the amount paid for licensing in the original bid.
While a great number of municipalities are out, there are those who want in. Reading is one area that has shown great interest in being home to a mini casino. The city is the fifth largest in the state and the city council along with the mayor decided to approve their city as a home for a satellite casino. Lawrence County is also interested in hosting a gaming venue. York, Williamsport and Altoona have also showed interest.
So now, it will be a waiting game to see which operators show up to the auction next week and place their bids. Will there be a great deal of interest and several bids submitted? Or perhaps there is no company interested in becoming involved in smaller gaming venues. Only time will tell who will be interested and if any offers will be submitted. We will stay on top of the latest developments and provide information after the auction as it is released.