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County bypassed for first casino license :: Harnesslink casi

Source:sites edit:casino time:2018-01-13

The award of the first of 10 mini-casino licenses has left Commissioner Dan Vogler hopeful for Lawrence County's chances at one of the remaining nine licenses.

The first license was awarded on Wednesday to Mountainview Thoroughbred Association LLC, the Dauphin County-based parent company of Hollywood Casino. The winning offer for $50,100,000 outbid three other competitors. The new mini-casino will be located in Yoe Borough in southern York County. The community is near the Maryland border with access to Interstate 83 into Maryland.

"That is very similar to our situation," said Vogler who made the drive to Harrisburg to witness the bid award. "Lawrence County is located on a state border with Ohio. We have access to many major highways from Interstate 376, the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Interstates 80 and 79. We also have empty buildings that would be ideal locations to house a casino."

All the county needs, he agreed, is an existing casino operator with deep pockets who can outbid others vying for the remaining nine Category 4 licenses.

Vogler said he could not say if any potential casino operators have visited Lawrence County but agreed that several locations might be attractive for such a project.

Potential sites could include the Cascade Galleria in downtown New Castle and the former Sears store in Union Township, which has good highway access, is near the Ohio border, has access to massive amounts of free parking and is located near hotels and restaurants.

The winning bid and proposed location for the state's first mini casino were announced prior to Wednesday's Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board meeting by executive director Kevin O'Toole who said the amount of the bid must be provided to state officials by 4 p.m. Friday or the license will go to the second place bidder.

In all, four bids were received for the first casino license auction. O'Toole said the names of the unsuccessful bidders and their offers would be locked away "secured and confidential and will not influence upcoming auctions."

The next auction is scheduled for Jan. 24.

Vogler noted that under terms of the new licenses, the casino must be located within a 15-mile radius of Yoe, and may be no closer than 25 miles to an existing casino. Vogler also noted that with Gettysburg in Adams County and all of Lancaster County opting out of potential casino sites, "This locks up south central Pennsylvania along the Maryland border."

Gov. Tom Wolf in October expanded the gaming law, creating opportunities for 10 mini-casinos also called satellite or Category 4 casinos. The state anticipates generating $100 million if all 10 licenses are sold. However, an estimated 1,017 municipalities within the commonwealth have opted out of gaming expansion.

Vogler, however, noted that there is interest in Reading, Williamsport, State College, Altoona, Johnstown and Lawrence County which under the law is far enough from casinos in Allegheny and Erie counties not to be seen as competing. The county is also 30 miles from the Penn National Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course in Austintown.

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