Various townships and boroughs across Pennsylvania are debating if they want satellite casinos in their communities.
Amid all the legalese of the recent gambling expansion bill that includes satellite casinos (and PA online gambling), a new Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) resolution notes that cities, boroughs, townships, and incorporated towns have the ability, by law, to opt out.
Information and guidelines for opting out, as well as locales that have declined to host satellite casinos, are available here.
How opt-outs will work
The PGCB says opting out will take place through a two-step process.
First, its manual says, “The governing body of the municipality should officially adopt the Resolution at a public meeting.” (That meeting must be in accordance with the state’s rules for meetings.)
From there, the decisions must be mailed to the PGCB’s Harrisburg address.
The resolution also notes that the PGCB recommends opt-out letters include a reference to the legislation that allows each municipality to opt out, the date of the governing body’s decisions, and any necessary seals or signatures to make the decision official.
Arguments for satellite casinos in Pennsylvania
Proponents of satellite casinos say they’ll bring in millions in revenue. Up to 750 slot machines are allowed at each location. And it’s worth noting that Pennsylvania’s slot taxes are the highest in the nation at 54 percent. This means satellite casinos will be formidable revenue earners for the state’s various funds.
The state’s ailing coffers will receive a nice boost with the 10 satellite casino licenses up for grabs. They will be auctioned off with opening bids starting at $7 million. Plus, these satellite casinos can purchase a $2.5 million license to allow table games.
From the gambler’s perspective, more casinos across the state means reduced commuting from home to tables.
Arguments against satellite casinos in Pennsylvania
The flip side of the argument is that even though satellites can’t be built within 25 miles of an existing casino, there’s bound to be some cannibalization.
But the argument, according to Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, isn’t so much that it will lose gamblers to other casinos, but that those lost gamblers will reduce race purses.
Smaller purses aren’t good for race tracks. While the bill allots money from expanded gambling revenue to struggling casinos, that money won’t go directly to race purses.
“If our business was to decline, the brick and mortar or Hollywood Casino, we would be giving less to the horse racing purse fund,” a Hollywood vice presient told ABC 27. “For satellite casinos, it’s not written or designated that any of their money would be for horse racing purses.”