Summary: The Caernarvon Township provides preliminary approval for Penn National to develop mini casino despite resident backlash.
In late 2017, lawmakers in Pennsylvania approved an expansive gaming package that would see several changes to the gambling offerings of the state. Included in the mix were satellite casinos. Operators in state as well as outside qualified entities could bid for licensing to operate a smaller gaming venue with no more than 750 slots and 30 table games. Penn National was one such operator who was approved for licensing.
The company recently made their plans known for a $111 million facility in the Caernarvon Township. During a town hearing, the company provided their plans for approval. As many as 250 people attended the meeting with many against the plans. Residents were not happy with the decision to bring a gaming venue to the region, with fear of crime or gambling addiction.
Despite these fears, the supervisors of the township have decided to give preliminary approval for the final plans so that Penn National can move forward.
The first meeting involving the casino took place in early March. This past week, another meeting took place where the supervisors gave their preliminary approval. Around 40 people attended this meeting with most giving their approval for the plans.
With the approval, Penn National has plans to move ahead with their 86,000 square foot facility, located near the Turnpike and Route 10. The plans include the maximum amount of slots and table games allowed as well as a restaurant and stage for entertainment.
Penn National wants to get started as quickly as possible so they can begin to reap the benefits of having a smaller gaming venue in the region.
Benefiting the Community
The project has been estimated to bring as much as $94 million to the local economy. During the construction phase, as many as 255 employment positions will be created. With the casino, an additional 250 jobs should be offered. In annual revenue, the township should see around $1.6 million.
According to the supervisors of the township, the planning commission recommended approving the plan with no revisions. Now, Penn National will have to provide agreements including financial security to the township. This must be completed within 90 days.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protections must also approve the project along with the Berks County Conservation District. The project still has a long way to go. The company has plans to begin construction by next year and then open hopefully by the fall of 2020.
The state already has a quality casino industry, with the twelve land-based venues bringing in over $3.2 billion in 2018 revenues. With the introduction of satellite casinos, the state should see a large increase in land-based revenues once the facilities are in working order.
The overall gambling industry of the state should see a massive increase in revenues over the coming years as satellite casinos are integrated, online gambling comes in to play, video gaming terminals launch at truck stops and more of the changes are implemented.
It will be interesting to watch and see as the state develops with the many changes coming to fruition.