The suitors are lining up.
In January, Stadium Casino LLC won the second of 10 satellite casino licenses the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) auctioned off as part of the state’s gambling expansion package passed in Oct. 2017.
The group is about to start the demo at the property upon which it will build Philly Live! casino. It also designated a 15-mile circle within Westmoreland County as the site of its satellite casino. Now, according to several news outlets, towns are lining up to woo the county’s first satellite casino.
The communities in the running for the casino are, according to Trib Live:
Towns hoping for satellite benefits
A satellite casino is smaller than existing brick-and-mortar casinos. There is a limit of 750 slots and 40 table games. Nonetheless, it still represents a tremendous revenue opportunity for the townships that end up with them.
A satellite casino means increased traffic, which means more revenue for:
- Gas stations
- Shopping areas
- Hotels and motels
Local leaders are aware of the economic benefits of a satellite casino and, as one township supervisor commented, “they all want it.”
Hempfield is of particular interest because the town commercial development has “declined by about 40 percent over the last three years.”
Local residents were quick to point out via Facebook comments that a new casino also has its distinct disadvantages.
One alleged resident of Hempfield was worried that a new casino would pull people away from local bingo games that raise money for community services.
Another commenter whose hometown was listed as Greensburg scoffed at his city officials’ claims that the town lacks the infrastructure.
One trip down Route 136 will prove that the infrastructure isn’t quite where it needs to be, implying that the road’s poor condition belies officials’ claims.
Strategy is the name of the satellite game
Satellite casino locations are almost as important as the satellite themselves. Casinos jockey for locations that allow satellites (some counties opted out) and are close to big populations.
Place a satellite between a casino and its commuters and you’re bound to earn the business of gamblers who don’t want to drive farther away to their favorite casino floor.
Stadium Casino LLC’s selection of Westmoreland County is an advantageous one. It captures westbound traffic heading into Pittsburgh, the second-largest city in the state.
Meanwhile, Mount Airy, winner of the state’s third satellite auction, selected Lawrence County. The location is north of Pittsburgh and captures the wager-hungry living in the surprisingly populated Youngstown, OH area. The city’s urban area is home to more than 500,000 people.
Pittsburgh’s lone casino, Rivers, will most likely lose customers from the Youngstown area as well as from the less-populated counties to the east of the city.
Little about the PGCB’s satellite license auctions has been predictable. Still, it may be a foregone conclusion that Rivers will win one of the remaining six licenses in order to shore up the customer base.
The PGCB satellite auctions continue until all 10 licenses have a buyer or there are no bidders. Should any licenses remain, the board will open up the auction to Valley Forge and Lady Luck. These Category 2 properties are not allowed to bid during the initial round of auctions, per the rules of the state’s gambling expansion bill.