No Dice: Mount Airy Mini Casino Plan Rejected by Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board

Posted on: November 20, 2019, 10:44h. 

Last updated on: November 20, 2019, 12:35h.

Mount Airy Casino Resort’s plan to open a Category 4 “mini-casino” in Beaver County was rebuffed by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) Wednesday.

Mount Airy Casino Resort won’t be able to open a mini-casino in Beaver County, Penn. after regulators rebuffed the idea. (Image: Forbes)

Members of the PGCB said that the effort was turned back because Mount Airy couldn’t procure adequate funding for the project.

“We are very disappointed that Mount Airy Casino Resort will not be moving forward with our proposed Category 4 casino in Beaver County,” said the property’s COO Todd Greenberg in a statement released earlier today.

The Keystone State’s Gaming Expansion Act 42 of 2017 provided for the addition of the so-called mini-casinos.

A Category 4 facility may have between 300 and 750 slot machines, along with a maximum of 30 table games at opening with the capability of adding an additional 10 table games after its first year of operation,” according to the PGCB.

Data from the gaming board indicates Mount Airy was awarded a license in July for a satellite gaming property in Big Beaver Borough, Beaver County, with a winning bid of $21.18 million.

Competition Concerns

As is the case with some other Mid-Atlantic gaming hubs, increasing nearby competition played a role in the demise of Mount Airy’s Big Beaver ambitions. The town is located about an hour from downtown Pittsburgh.

The Steel City, Pennsylvania’s second-largest metropolitan area, is home to the Rivers Casino and is close to several other gaming properties. Last month, Rivers posted revenue of $32 million, a 13.74 percent jump on a year-over-year basis, placing it third among Pennsylvania’s 12 land-based gaming venues, according to PGCB data.

Mount Airy, located near the Poconos, a popular tourist destination, notched October turnover of almost $16.1 million, a 5.91 percent year-over-year increase. October was the first full month for that venue’s newly minted sports betting app, which generated a handle of $10.4 million.

Underscoring the increasingly competitive gaming landscape in Pennsylvania, the PGCB held a mini-casino auction in early September in which no bidder emerged with the minimum $7.5 million qualifying offer, meaning the state will put a hold on issuing Category 4 licenses.

Penn National Gaming, the oldest licensed gaming operator in the state, previously balked at the mini-casino idea, saying those proposals unfairly protected gaming properties in Philadelphia while introducing unneeded competition to venues in other parts of Pennsylvania.

New Plans

Local politicians in Big Beaver were dismayed by the PGCB decision, saying that Mount Airy controlled land near Interstate 376 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike for more than a year, with no development taking place.

Some are optimistic that although the mini-casino plan was denied, other developers will have an interest in the land.

“Hopefully, this has opened eyes for that corridor,” said Daniel Camp, chairman of the Beaver County Board of Commissioners in an interview with The Times. “Now people know there’s interest in development there, and we should see some action taking place there in the coming months or year.”