No Bids during 5th Pennsylvania Mini-Casino Auction

Kevin O Toole

Kevin O TooleAfter a delay, the 5th mini-casino auction took place in Pennsylvania with no bids submitted.

Since January, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has hosted two auctions a month to provide current land-based gaming operators with the opportunity to acquire licensing for smaller, satellite casinos. Up to 10 licenses are up for grabs and so far, each auction for licensing has seen a few bids, that is until this past week. After a two-day delay, the 5th auction for satellite licensing took place with the Gaming Control Board receiving no bids from operators.

The auction was originally set for Wednesday of this week, but bad weather caused the auction to be delayed until Friday. Now, according to the Board, no bids were sent in for the 5th gaming license up for grabs. Executive Director of the Board, Kevin O’Toole, announced during the beginning of the auction that there had been no formal proposals submitted.

Four licenses for satellite casino gaming have been auctioned thus far, so has interest now waned? Since January, the Board has planned two auctions per month, through the month of May. For now, only existing operators in the state can apply for satellite licensing and must bid a minimum of $7.5 million to be considered.

With six satellite casino licenses remaining and no bidders during this recent auction, a second round of auctions will begin in two weeks. With these auctions, the smaller resort casinos of the state will have a chance to bid. This will include Lady Luck Casino. Operators who already secured rights to build a mini casino can also be eligible again to bid for additional licensing.

Winners So Far

Thus far, over $118 million has been paid to the state via the mini-casino auctions. The first winner was Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association who bid $50.1 million. The company will be building in York County. Stadium Casino LLC earned the second license, securing a spot in Westmoreland County with a $40.1 million bid.

The bids dropped even further during the third auction with Mount Airy #1 LLC earning the next license with $21.2 million. The company plans to build in New Castle. Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment Inc. earned the fourth license with an $8.1 million bid. This auction had a bit of drama as the Sands Bethworks Gaming LLC initially earned the license, but their bid was invalidated after it was found that their plans overlapped the location buffer with the plans of Mount Airy. Greenwood will be constructing their venue in Cumberland County.

Moving Forward

This empty auction does raise some concerns. Will there be any more interest in the mini-casino licenses? Will the state continue to be able to earn much-needed funds from the new gaming option? it is disheartening to see that no bids came in this go-round, especially considering the amount of money that has already been spent.

We may see that in two weeks, bids continue to run dry. Gaming regulators would have to determine how to proceed next. It may take outside investors to get the ball rolling again if new gaming facilities are to be built in the state.

Existing operators may also have their eye on other gaming options. Along with the satellite casinos being approved last year, online gaming is also coming soon. Current land-based gaming operators may be looking to go online rather than focus on building another gaming facility. We will have to watch and see over the coming weeks if any interest is shown this go round and how the auctions will proceed in the future.