As Pennsylvania’s state-wide gambling expansion plans begin to take effect, the repercussions and its subsequent ripple effects are beginning to become more prominent. Penn National Gaming Inc. was one of the operators that were lucky enough to acquire the mini-casino licenses from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in an auction earlier this year. Since then, the casino operator has been eyeing a specific site in York County, something that has caused quite a stir owing to the tremendous lobbying by Hellam Township residents who will hear nothing of the idea of setting up a mini-casino in the area.
The town’s resident’s response to the plans to have a mini-casino established in the site became quite clear during a board of supervisors meeting that was held on May 17 this year. A number of issues and thought were aired out by both the supervisors and the residents with one of the highlights being a concerned resident who pointed out that “no one wins except for a casino when a casino goes in.”
Furthermore, some of the residents said that they were just hearing of the possibility of a mini-casino in the township. The town’s board members however countered this by saying that information on the same had been listed on the website and posted on the sign in front of the township building.
The board’s stance on the issue has also been pretty straightforward – initially, it was opposed to the idea of the mini casino but they reversed this after careful examination of the prospects of such an initiative. The board members believe that the mini-casino will, in fact, be an asset to the community.
“We believe it’s going to bring over 300 jobs according to Penn national, it’s going to revitalize the community…” said Galen Weibley, township supervisor. “I think it would spur economic growth in the area, plus it would allow us to tie in the historic Wrightsville downtown.”
Weibley and the other board members primarily reconsidered the idea because the operator promised to save the Mifflin House property, a former stop of the Underground Railroad that dates back to the 1800s. Penn National Gaming Inc. has been considering three properties just off the Wrightsville exit on Route 30, which also happen to include the site where the Mifflin House is located. However, this is not a guarantee since the operators might eventually end up choosing a different property or even a different municipality especially considering the anti-casino lobbying.
At the moment, the township cannot prohibit the business from coming in and thus the only way for the residents to get what they want will be by contacting Penn National and sharing their views on the rather pressing issue.