Disinterest Shown Regarding Satellite Casinos in Pennsylvania

by Kyle Miller

PennsylvaniaNot everyone is open to vying for a satellite casino license in the state of Pennsylvania.

All eyes have been on the state of Pennsylvania over the past few weeks as changes have been made to the gambling industry in the region. Lawmakers have approved, and the Governor signed into law legislation that will see many additions to the gambling landscape, including online gaming. Also in the mix are land based gaming venues known as satellite casinos. Satellite casinos can be created in areas that are at least 25 miles from the existing land based casinos of the state, with as many as 10 licenses up for grabs. While it seemed that areas would be open to hosting one of these gaming venues, it seems there is already disinterest in the aspect of offering such gaming.

Opting Out

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board released a new web site this week showing the townships that have chosen to opt out of being a host to a satellite casino. It is surprising to see that areas are already saying they are not interested. According to multiple media reports, Doug Harbach, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, stated that the Kennett Township of Chester County have already told the agency they are not interested and voted to ban the casino option.

While this township is the only area to officially say they are opting out, according to the Morning Call, others have that same intention. Macungie Borough is a town in Lehigh Valley that is small and reportedly town officials believe that a gaming venue would essentially be in someone’s back yard. The area reportedly has not area left in which to create a gaming venue.

It seems that other areas of the state will begin to come forward officially via this new website and show their position to opt out of being considered.

What Can Be Created

With the new law in place, the Board has the ability to award as many as 10 licenses for the satellite casinos. A satellite casino is essentially a mini-casino that can offer a small selection of table games and slot machines. As many as 40 table games can be installed along with as many as 750 slots.

Land-based casinos currently in operation in the state, there are 12, are said to be worried about the satellite casinos, particularly Penn National. To try and avoid any cannibalization, the satellite venues will have to be constructed at least 25 miles from the existing land based casinos.

A portion of the money earned from the satellite venues are to be put towards the casinos in the state that are currently struggling. However, Penn National is still worried that their Hollywood Casino will be affected. Located in Harrisburg, the Hollywood Casino is the only one, according to Penn National, that will be the closest to a satellite casino depending on where they are located. Other gaming venues of the state are located near other casinos, so the 25 mile radius will have to be stretched to accommodate multiple venues.

The officials of Hollywood Casino actually think that the satellite casinos will take away their patrons who visit the race track which will lower the race purses. This is something that the new legislation does not compensate for.

It will be interesting to see in the coming weeks which areas show disinterest in the satellite casinos as well as which operators want to get in on the mini-casino action.