The parent company to the Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Pocono Mountains submitted a winning bid for the third of 10 satellite casino locations today, with the offer of $21,188,888.88 topping the other sealed submissions.
Mount Airy #1 LLC selected a 15-mile radius in Lawrence County centered in New Castle, a city about 50 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.
The region sits between two major arteries, Interstate 80 the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and is less than 10 miles from the Pennsylvania-Ohio border and nearby Youngstown.
While 664 municipalities opted out of the Category 4 satellite casino process by filing local resolutions banning gambling venues, officials in Lawrence County said “the welcome mat is out.”
Pennsylvania’s General Assembly passed a massive gambling expansion package in October, and the legislation was later signed by Governor Tom Wolf (D). Each of the 10 satellite casinos will be permitted to house up to 750 slot machines and 30 table games.
In addition to the satellites, the expansion legalizes online gambling and daily fantasy sports, creates sports betting regulations in the anticipated overture of the current federal ban, authorizes gaming lounges inside airport terminals, and permits the inclusion of slot machines at certain truck stops.
The “888” repetition in Mount Airy’s offer might be an ode to its interactive gaming partner 888 Holdings.
Gamble Paying Off
Penn National Gaming won the first satellite auction, paying $50.1 million for York County. Owners of Parx Casino near Philadelphia took the second bidding contest with a $40.1 million offer to secure Westmoreland County.
With the more than $21.1 million from Mount Airy, Pennsylvania has taken in nearly $111.4 million from the three satellite licenses. During the law’s passage, the state government estimated the 10 casino bids would generate $100 million in tax revenue.
Mount Airy has two business days to pay the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) its total bid. The company then has six months to identify the precise location of the proposed satellite casino, with detailed plans regarding the building, amenities, employment projections, and other related information.
Wolf Challenges Lawsuit
Despite being the top satellite casino bidder, Penn National Gaming is moving forward with a lawsuit that contends the expansion law is illegal. The company is the oldest casino operator in the state, and owns the Hollywood Casino in the Harrisburg suburb of Grantville.
Penn National says the satellite casino regulation that provides 25-mile protections around existing casinos unjustly harms its property and violates its rights to “equal protection” under the state constitution. Unlike in Philadelphia where four casino venues collectively form a large radius where the satellites cannot be built, Hollywood’s nearest casino competitor is more than 60 miles away.
Governor Wolf and the PGCB urged a federal judge this week to dismiss Penn National’s suit. “Hollywood Casino’s 25-mile protective zone in all directions is more than a casino like Presque Isle of the Meadows receives due to competition in neighboring states,” the governor and gaming board declared.