One of the five upcoming Pennsylvania-based mini-casinos finally found a home – the York Galleria Mall.
York Galleria provides space, parking, and infrastructure
Penn National Gaming, Inc. announced last week that they had officially filed a $120 million application with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) for the location in Springettsbury Township.
The Hollywood Casino York will house 500 slot machines and 20 table games, with room for expansion.
“We explored numerous other potential opportunities within York County, but the mall’s convenient location, existing infrastructure, and ample parking, as well as the support of Springettsbury Township officials and the local business community, helped cement our decision,” Timothy Wilmott, Penn National’s CEO, said in a statement announcing the gaming conglomerate’s decision.
Two weeks ago, Penn National spokesman Eric Schippers told reporters that the Bucks County-based company was finalizing an option to lease an empty Sears space.
Penn National asked for extension on project
Mini-casinos, also known as Category 4 casinos, can house 300 to 750 slot machines and up to 40 table games. They were authorized as part of a gambling expansion bill signed into law last year by Gov. Tom Wolf. The law allows up to 10 mini-casinos. However, auctions for satellite casino licenses only resulted in five bids. The other five are still in limbo regarding their future.
Penn National actually won the very first Category 4 license in January of 2018. It then took months of research and back-and-forth squabbling with various members of Springettsbury Township to strike a deal.
Assuming all goes according to plan, it’s expected that the future Hollywood Casino York will open within 12 to 18 months with 500 slot machines and 20 table games immediately up and running.
Took eight months to settle on a mini-casino location
Springettsbury Township will receive two percent of the gross tax revenue from the new casino’s slot machines and one percent from table games. Penn National says that of the $120 million they’re investing, $52.6 million will go toward licensing fees for slots and table games. That bid was the largest of the five. The base cost of a license is $7.5 million.
Revenue from York Galleria will be distributed at the state, county and local levels.
As late as July of this year, Penn National was still considering a number of other locations within York County.
“We wanted additional time to conduct further analysis on the sites and expect to make a final decision in the near future,” Penn National spokesman Jeff Morris told The York Daily Record at the time. “Accessibility and enough space to accommodate both the facility and ample parking are two of the primary factors in determining the ideal location for our Category 4 facility.”
Initially, after Penn National expressed interest in the York Galleria location, supervisors said no to hosting a casino on the site. Municipalities could opt out as part of the expansion bill. Many did.
Community members poured into public hearings in July in an effort to voice their displeasure. Opponents voiced concerns about an increase in crime, potential fluctuations in property values, and the casino’s proximity to schools and a playground.
York initially said no, then changed its mind
Econsult Solutions, Inc., a consulting firm hired by Penn National to assess the overall impact of the mini casino on the township, found that it was likely to have a positive impact fiscally. Even if the casino only earns the township a few hundred thousand in annual revenue, it should up tourism and offer increased business opportunities. However, other issues, such as improving traffic patterns and building bigger water and sewer lines, could require an additional investment. In spite of the initial disagreements, the fiscal allure of a mini casino was simply too much for Springettsbury Township to ignore.
Springettsbury isn’t without its own allure, of course. The township provides plenty of opportunity for the casino as well. There are a number of shopping centers, a Target and the York Galleria. Additionally, it is in close proximity to Route 30 and Interstate 83.
Details on the Hollywood Casino York project
The expectation from Springettsbury Township supervisors is that the Hollywood Casino York will revitalize the mall and bring customers back to other shops.
“The development of this mini casino will be a catalyst for further investment and economic growth at the York Galleria Mall,” County Supervisor Charles Wurster said in a statement. “The vast majority of residents that I have received feedback from, overwhelmingly support this additional benefit in the community for a different form of entertainment and for the economic opportunities to the area that this investment will provide.”
Beyond the betting parlor, the Hollywood Casino York will feature a sports bar, a small entertainment lounge and a pair of fast-casual eateries. More from Wilmott:
“Penn National Gaming has been proud to call Pennsylvania home for over 45 years. We look forward to adding hundreds of new team members in York County and becoming another economic engine for Springettsbury and the greater York business community.”
Penn National expects their new location to create 200 permanent jobs, along with 75 short-term construction jobs.
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