Casino targets area between Carlisle and Chambersburg

Written by Jim Hook/The Chambersburg Public Opinion | Feb 22, 2018 6:45 PM

FILE PHOTO: People gamble at the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs casino in Wilkes-Barre. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

(Harrisburg) -- A casino has been proposed for an area that includes Shippensburg.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on Thursday announced that Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment Inc., which operates the Parx Casino in Bucks County, secured a location for a mini-casino.

The company's bid of $8.1 million secured a location within a 15-mile radius of a point in South Newton Township, Cumberland County. A rough outline of the area includes the boroughs of Shippensburg, Newburg, Newville, Biglerville, York Springs, the villages of Scotland Fayetteville and possibly Mount Holly Springs and southern Carlisle.

Most of the municipalities within the circle have opted out of hosting a mini-casino, and many do not allow the retail sale of alcohol. South Newton Township supervisors have voted not to host a casino, and the township is dry.

In fact, only a few municipalities in the area welcome a casino. Shippensburg and Hopewell townships in Cumberland County did not refuse to host a casino, and both are "wet." Lurgan Township in Franklin County also is wet,did not opt out and hosts the Blue Mountain interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Greene Township in Franklin County and Southampton Township in Cumberland County did not opt out of hosting a casino, but both townships are "dry."

To serve alcohol, a casino is required to get a restaurant liquor license. Casinos enjoy a number of exceptions to the state's Liquor Code, but the gaming code does not appear to make an exception to the wet-dry restrictions of the Liquor Code, according to Liquor Control Board spokesman Shawn Kelly.

The gaming board has awarded four of 10 Category 4 licenses available. 

Greenwood's bid was second highest of the bid amounts submitted on the previous day, but a bid from high bidder Sands Bethworks Gaming LLC was later determined invalid. Sands Bethworks' location, centered in Hempfield Township in Mercer County, intruded into a 15-mile radius area earlier secured by Mount Airy #1 LLC.

Greenwood is required to pay the bid price to the state within two business days, and then has up to six months to submit an application for the Category 4 Slot Machine License.

The application will contain the precise site of the proposed Category 4 casino, as well as detailed plans and information concerning the proposed building plan, amenities, employment projections and other related information. Once the application is received and determined to be complete, the board will post public information about the project on its website for interested persons to review.

Many municipalities in Greenwood's 30-mile-diameter circle have chosen not to host a casino. They include the boroughs of Shippensburg, Carlisle, Mount Holly Springs, Newville, Newburg, Biglerville, Bendersville, Arendtsville and York Springs. The following townships in Franklin County have also opted out Guilford, Southampton and Letterkenny.

A Category 4 Slot Machine License would permit the entity to operate between 300 and 750 slot machines. The entity also could petition for permission to initially operate up to 30 table games for an additional fee of $2.5 million and add 10 tables games after its first year of operation.

The board has six Category 4 licenses still available. The results of the first three auctions were:

  • January 10: Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association LLC, which operates Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, was the high bidder with a bid of $50.1 million. The center of the Category 4 location is in the Borough of Yoe in York County.
  • January 24: Stadium Casino LLC, which holds a Category 2 license and will construct a casino in Philadelphia, was the high bidder with a bid of $40.1 million. The center of the Category 4 location is in Derry Township in Westmoreland County.
  • February 8: Mount Airy #1 LLC which operates the Mount Airy Casino Resort, was the high bidder with a bid of $21.2 million. The center of that Category 4 location is in the City of New Castle in Lawrence County.

The Gaming Control Board plans to hold its next public auction on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. in its Harrisburg Public Hearing Room in Strawberry Square just prior to its regularly scheduled Board meeting.

The state's casino industry has of 10 stand-alone and racetrack casinos and two smaller resort casinos. Together the facilities employ 18,000 people and annually generate approximately $1.4 billion in tax revenue from slot machine and table games play. The largest portion of that money is used for property tax reduction to all Pennsylvania homeowners.

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The Chambersburg Public Opinion

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