This Monday, McCandless Council unanimously voted against the proposed 10 mini-casinos within the town’s borders. Councilors, though, did not kill any ray of hope, explaining that they might change their stance on the matter in the near future, supposing that they find the mini-casinos to be beneficial for McCandless’ economy. So far, a number of other municipalities decided to opt out of hosting a mini-casino, but they are allowed to change their mind at any time and become a potential expansion town.
On 30th July this year, Pennsylvania lawmakers approved a $32 billion spending plan for the current fiscal year. But the officials could not agree on how to pay for it and close a $2.2-billion gap. The tax hike is usually a painful process that largely harms taxpayers. Apart from the other proposals, gambling surfaced as a potential remedy to help bridge the gap. The officials had a hard time to find a consensus on the gaming proposal. Eventually, the state’s officials approved a gambling expansion bill that includes the construction of mini-casinos, fantasy sports betting and allowing video gaming terminals at truck stops.
Requirements to the Mini-Casino Bidders
To make sure that the small gambling facilities will not cannibalize the revenue of the 12 already existing casinos in Pennsylvania, the officials asserted that the new small casinos should be located in areas at least 25 miles away from existing ones. It is interesting to note that McCandless is only 12 miles away from the already existing Rivers Casino located on Pittsburgh’s North Shore. However, the restriction is not valid for already existing casinos that apply for a license to operate a mini-casino.
Such satellite casinos are allowed to operate at least 300 slot machines. The maximum number of slot machines, that a mini-casino can house is 750. As for gaming tables, each satellite casino is allowed to offer 30 table games with the option to add 10 more after one year. The state opened a time window until 1st January 2018, allowing each municipality to decide if it agrees to host a mini-casino or not. Municipalities that do not meet the deadline to opt out or present their stance on the matter will be considered as a potential expansion town.
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is required to hold the first blind auction for one of the licenses by 16th January. The starting bid is $7.5 million and only Pennsylvania’s licensed casino owners can participate in the bidding process. The winner will have the exclusive right to choose a location for the first mini-casino.