Lawrence County Commissioner Chairman Dan Vogler revealed that he and his colleagues are to hold a meeting with county economic development officials until the end of the week in order to discuss an appropriate strategy to attract a mini-casino to the County.
As revealed by Mr. Vogler, apart from him, Lawrence County commissioners Steve Craig and Bob Del Signore and County Administrator Jim Gagliano are to meet with county officials who are responsible for economic development. The Lawrence County officials who are to be present at the meeting are the head of the Lawrence County Regional Chamber of Commerce Alex McCoy, the Executive Director of the tourist promotion agency Janet Falotico, Linda Nitch, an Executive Director of the county economic development agency, and the head of Ellwood City Chamber of Commerce Raymond Santillo.
According to information revealed by Mr. Vogler, the Lawrence County commissioners will call for a mini-casino, but would not push for a specific municipality as a location for the casino.
Mini-Casinos Statute After Pennsylvania Gambling Expansion
Mini-casinos are run under a new category of casino license, which was made legal after the state of Pennsylvania finally approved its long-awaited gambling expansion along with the state budget. At the end of October, the Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf laid his signature under the piece of legislation which okayed a major expansion of local gambling market. Apart from the changes concerning physical casinos across the state, the change has made the state the fourth to legalize online gambling, along with the states of New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.
The General Assembly has given the green light to up to 10 mini-casinos in Pennsylvania, which are to be run under the new Category 4 licenses. The step was part of the state’s efforts to boost its gaming revenue in order to fill a budget deficit. The new licenses would be granted only to operators who already hold Category 1 and 2 licenses.
For the time being, Category 1 are racino licenses, while Category 2 are stand-alone casinos. Resort casinos are allowed under Category 3 license. Under current rules, a Category 4 casino is not allowed to be located within 25 miles of a casino run under a Category 1, 2 or 3 license. Category 4 casino is also prohibited to be established within the counties of Pike, Montgomery, Wayne or Fayette.
According to Lawrence Country Commissioner Chairman, the license holders that are in close proximity and could enter a bidding process for establishing a mini-casino in the region are Meadows Racetrack in Washington, Presque Isle Downs in Erie and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. Mr. Vogler explained that the the areas of the state in which there are still no nearby casinos would certainly be able to get one of the above-mentioned types of licenses.
The bidding process is given a start at $7.5 million for the license, under which the casino would be allowed to run 30 table games and 750 slot machines. Under current legislation, about 1% or 2% of the mini-casinos’ gaming revenue is to be redirected to the host community and municipality. The latter, however, are also given the right to ban a mini-casino within their jurisdiction in case they have taken the necessary action for that before December 30th.