On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board voted unanimously to give a “mini casino” license to Penn National in order to begin construction at York Galleria Mall. With the issuing of this license, the mini casino will become the third of its kind and will be replacing what was once a Sears department store. The announcement of the new casino is reflective of the larger trends throughout the state and nation in which retail department stores are declining, while retail and online gambling are rapidly expanding.
The addition of this new satellite casino was made possible through a gambling expansion that was passed in Pennsylvania back in 2017. Casinos throughout the state have placed bids on satellite facilities in hopes of capitalizing on the new law. Philadelphia-based Stadium Casino LLC just recently broke ground on a satellite casino in Western Pennsylvania at Westmoreland Mall called Live! Casino Pittsburgh. Penn National is also working on Hollywood Casino Morgantown in Berks County. The project at York Galleria Mall is the latest development in the growing interest in mini casinos.
What to Expect from the Mini Casino
The awarding of the license gives Penn National the ability to construct a Category 4 casino, which they earned through their bid of roughly $50 million in an auction that lasted only 60 seconds. The casino is being constructed in a repurposed 80,000 square foot retail facility and will be affiliated with the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course. Penn National has stated its already invested nearly $120 million in the project.
Construction is already underway at what will be the Hollywood Casino York, and it is expected that the casino will open in the next 12 to 13 months. According to a press release issued by Casino City Times, Hollywood Casino York will operate on a single floor, offering 500 slot machines, 24 table games, a sports and race book, and a variety of dining and entertainment facilities. The slots will include both reel and video, ranging from penny to $100 denominations. The table games are set to include craps, blackjack, and roulette, while regular live entertainment is expected to be scheduled on Fridays and Saturdays. By law, the license gives Penn National the option of expanding to a maximum of 750 slot machines and 40 table games. The company has not expressed interest in doing so, but an expansion could come if the mini casino proves to be successful.
Local Reception to New Casino Project
The casino has met little opposition in a state that is already home to many brick-and-mortar casinos, and the new Penn National project will be welcomed with open arms in place of and abandoned department store. Residents of Springettsbury Township, home of the York Galleria Mall and the new casino, were given the opportunity to voice their opinions of the new deal at a public hearing last year. While there were concerns surrounding a potential increase in crime and drop in property values, the majority of people were in favor of the new casino.
The new Hollywood Casino York is expected to create 260 construction jobs over the course of the next year. After opening, the casino is expected to have the equivalent of 200 full time positions. In addition to the new employment opportunities the new casino is expected to generate $1 million in annual tax revenue of the local community.