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Odds of a casino improved for Chambersburg or Shippensburg

Written by Jim Hook/The Chambersburg Public Opinion | Aug 11, 2018 9:12 AM
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FILE PHOTO: People gamble at the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs casino in Wilkes-Barre. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The odds for a Cumberland or Franklin county slot machine parlor have improved.

Greene Township and Shippensburg Township are on a very short list of municipalities that have a shot at hosting a mini-casino.

South Middleton Township Supervisors on Thursday left stand their earlier vote to opt out of hosting a satellite casino proposed by Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment Inc.

Mark Stewart, a Harrisburg attorney representing Greenwood Gaming, said at the meeting that Greenwood will consider other options - including Shippensburg and Greene townships, the Carlisle Sentinel reported on Thursday. Stewart was not available on Friday. 

Both Shippensburg and Greene townships did not vote in 2017 to opt out of hosting a casino. Both offer easy access to Interstate 81. Shippensburg Township in Cumberland County has the advantage of being a "wet" township, where alcoholic beverages can be sold. Greene Township is "dry," but has a location available with plenty of parking at the Chambersburg Mall.

Mall General Manager Robert Woodring said on Friday, "At this time we have no comment on this."

A casino could be a catalyst for re-purposing the mall, according to L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp.

"I have not heard from Greenwood," Greene Township Supervisor Todd Burns said. "I really don't know what it means at this point.  Seems they are more interested in Shippensburg."

Greenwood representatives earlier this year toured potential building sites in Shippensburg Township, Cumberland County, but have not made further contact, according to Shippensburg Township Supervisor Steve Oldt.

"Nothing has changed," Oldt said. "No one from Shippensburg Township has been officially contacted by anyone from the casino. We are obviously open to meeting with them and discussing whatever possibilities might be available to Shippensburg Township."

A Category 4 casino could employ 250 people full time and pump $1 million in revenue to the borough and $1 million to the county, according to a pitch Greenwood Gaming made to Carlisle Borough Council. Greenwood had asked Carlisle to reconsider its vote to opt out, but borough council did not.

The casino would compete with the larger Hollywood Casino in Grantville. A mini casino is permitted initially to operate 300 to 750 slot machines and, for an additional fee, up to 30 table games.

Greenwood Gaming has until Oct. 27 to choose a site for its mini casino under Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board rules.

Greenwood Gaming paid $8.1 million to the gaming board in February for the right to locate a small casino within a 30-mile-diameter circle centered around a point in South Newton Township, Cumberland County. The company was given six months to name the precise spot and prepare a building plan. The board also has granted Greenwood two additional months.

Greenwood Gaming indicated to the board it was considering South Middleton Township and two other municipalities which have not opted out of hosting a mini casino.

Shippensburg neighbor, Southampton Township in Cumberland County, did not opt out of hosting a casino, but is "dry."

The Borough of Chambersburg also voted in 2017 not opt out of hosting a casino, but Greenwood's circle of possible sites just touches the borough. Casino representatives have not contacted borough officials, according to Borough Manager Jeffrey Stonehill.

"There is no part of the borough that is eligible pursuant to their winning bid, other than the Menno Haven campus," Stonehill said. "It is my understanding that the geographic area from their bid packet cannot be altered."

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

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