On Monday, March 4, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) held its fourth public input hearing which is part of the state grand gaming expansion plans. At the hearing, Penn National Gaming was given the opportunity to give a presentation to the locals and the gaming control board about the plans it has for the satellite casino project proposed for the Caernarvon Township.
Penn National Gaming is already a force to reckon with in the Keystone State’s gaming industry largely because of its renowned Hollywood Casino at the Penn National Racecourse. The gaming operator is now seeking approval to build and operate a satellite casino that will be called Hollywood Casino Morgantown as part of its expansion plans in the state. If approved by the gaming control board, the construction of the mini-casino will begin promptly and is expected to create a plethora of employment opportunities including 275 construction jobs.
The $111 million satellite casino is set to feature a whopping 750 slot machines as well as 40 table games spread out across 86,000-square-feet of gaming space. It is reportedly eyeing a 2020 opening date but this will be entirely dependent on whether the gaming control board gives it the green light to proceed.
A decent number of people have come out to support the mini-casino project, with many of them citing the economic contributions that the mini-casino will bring to the host communities. Other than the job opportunities that will be created during the construction and after the facility goes live, there will be several other indirect economic benefits – perhaps the most notable one will be the increased tax revenue for both the town and Berks county as a whole.
Not Everyone Is Convinced
While the prospects of economic gain are certainly enticing enough for a decent number of people, a significantly large number of residents are still not on board with the mini-casino coming to the area. This is partly due to the rather morally and religiously conservative nature of the people in that area. However, the anti-gambling campaigners who were the majority at the public hearing cited many other concerns such as gambling addiction, family problems as well as crime.
Most of these concerns are both valid and justifiable which means that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and the local authorities will need to weight the options in order to arrive at a decision that is good for the county. Fortunately, there is a separate public hearing whose date is yet to be announced but it will be then that the final verdict on the Penn National mini-casino will be given. Stay tuned!