Pennsylvania Satellite Casino Public Hearing in College Town Generates Large Turnout

Posted on: March 26, 2019, 10:41h. 

Last updated on: March 26, 2019, 10:41h.

A Pennsylvania satellite casino public hearing in the college town of Shippensburg generated a large turnout this week, with many residents attending to voice their opposition to state gaming regulators.

Pennsylvania satellite casino Shippensburg
There were more people than seats at a Pennsylvania satellite casino hearing this week. (Image: Charles Thompson/PennLive)

Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment – the parent company to the Parx Casino just north of Philadelphia, secured the rights to a satellite casino after submitting a winning $8.1 million bid in February of 2018. The company selected a 15-mile area centered along Interstate 81 between Carlisle and Chambersburg.

Shippensburg Township didn’t opt out of the Category 4 “mini-casino” availability pool, but the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) and local officials still must formally approve proposals and final designs.

The majority of local officials expressed support on Monday. Shippensburg Police Department Chief Meredith Dominick said, “We are very excited about the casino. Yet, from a police standpoint, we need to be able to support that excitement to the necessary and needed manpower, resources, and equipment.”

The satellite casino hearing was held at the Shippensburg University Conference Center. As proposed, the 65,000-square-foot Parx Casino satellite would feature 475 slot machines, 40 table games, sportsbook, and restaurant.

Shippensburg University – a state school with its campus located just a couple miles from the casino site – is home to around 8,000 undergrad and graduate students.

Casinos Trap Customers?

Not everyone in attendance was there to support bringing commercial gambling to the rural town.

The Sentinel reports that Shippensburg Civic Club President Janet Rose told the PGCB, “People who run casinos do not encourage patrons to wander out in the neighborhood. It is designed to be an all-absorbing environment that does not release customers until they have exhausted their money.”

As a result – Rose and others claim – nearby businesses struggle to prosper and property values decrease. Shippensburg Township Supervisor Steve Oldt disagreed.

He points to the projected $1.8 million in annual host township and community tax payments, and estimated 200 full and part-time jobs, with full-time workers receiving an average $42,000 annual wage.

“Overall, we believe that the potential gains of a casino far outweigh any marginal risk, and will provide a long-term economic benefit for the greater Shippensburg area,” Oldt opined.

State of Keystone State Casinos

Pennsylvania lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf (D) authorized the mini-casinos in the fall of 2017. Five were successfully auctioned off.

Earlier this month, local officials in Caernarvon Township unanimously approved Penn National Gaming’s proposal to build Hollywood Casino Morgantown at the intersection of the PA Turnpike and Interstate 176. The PGCB still needs to formally authorize the satellite.

After bidding for the Category 4 permits stalled after four auctions, the four operators that had already won were allowed to submit subsequent offers for a second satellite. That was when Penn National won the Caernarvon location. Earlier, the company took the first auction with a $50.1 million proposal, and selected York County.

Penn National is working with Springettsbury Township to put a Hollywood Casino inside the York Galleria Mall. In addition, Mount Airy Casino is developing a satellite 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, and The Cordish Companies and its Stadium Casino brand is targeting the Westmoreland Mall north of the Steel City.