Trouble from the start for satellite casino
The proposed York Galleria mini-casino site is already creating ample issues for Springettsbury Township already. As part of the Pennsylvania gambling expansion bill Gov. Tom Wolf signed into existence in 2017, municipalities had the option of opting out from hosting one of 10 proposed satellite casinos.
Plenty did just that, Springettsbury Township included.
In order to opt out, municipalities needed to conduct a public meeting, take a vote, and then send documentation of that vote to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). Only a small handful of municipalities actually lobbied for a new casino, meaning more than 1,000 municipalities in Pennsylvania chose to opt out.
Despite Springettsbury’s initial reluctance, the town council voted to overturn the opt-out. Determined residents put up a fight via public forums, but that didn’t stop the $120 million deal with Penn National to open Hollywood Casino York at the York Galleria site.
Springettsbury springs back to contention
Mini-casinos, also known as satellite casinos, are, in essence, limited-size gambling parlors. Penn National expects Hollywood Casino York to initially hold 500 slots and 20 table games. All told, mini-casinos in Pennsylvania are allowed to house up to 750 slots and 40 table games.
But if a fair number of Springettsbury Township residents have their way, the former Sears at the York Galleria mall may not play host to any games or slots or, really, gambling of any kind.
This week, the PGCB set a date for another attempt at gathering public opinion on the proposed Hollywood Casino York.
Residents will have an opportunity to voice their opinion and make any and all concerns heard. It may well be their last chance to speak against, or in favor of, the Hollywood Casino York.
Already, Springettsbury supervisors have taken strides to make Penn National feel more at home, modifying town ordinances to make room for the mini-casino.
Following the initial hearings in July, in which residents cited concerns over potential increases in crime, drops in property value, and the casino’s proximity to schools and a playground, Springettsbury Township supervisors pushed forward, altering ordinances to include regulations for casinos, such as allowing them in the commercial highway zone, which includes the mall.
Why the contention over Hollywood Casino York?
If it seems that the proposed Hollywood York Casino is embroiled in more than its fair share of controversy, you’re right.
Springettsbury’s initial decision to opt out presumably led to the majority of the infighting. It culminated in allegations of a bribe in mid-September.
Previously, Penn National sued Pennsylvania over the very notion of mini-casinos. Penn National was concerned that the expansion of gambling in the state would cause “significant and unique” harm to its property, Hollywood Casino, located in Harrisburg.
Township supervisor Mark Swomley vehemently denied the bribe allegations, which came via an email from a concerned citizen, and attempted to explain away the township’s initial decision to opt out.
As Swomley frames it, the township did not have a working definition of ‘gaming facilities’ in its zoning ordinance. Therefore, it did not have control over where a casino could be placed within the community. Hence the changes to the ordinance and, perhaps, the subsequent about-face regarding a mini-casino in their community.
How to chime in on Hollywood Casino York
Any Springettsbury residents intending to speak at the hearing must register at the board’s website. Follow the QuickLinks section to the “Penn National Casino York Public Input Hearing” link.
People who cannot attend the hearing but would like to place comments into the record can also mail [email protected] or fax comments to 717-265-7416.
The deadline for registration to speak is noon on Oct. 30. Mailed comments must be postmarked no later than Oct. 30 and mailed to:
PA Gaming Control Board
P.O. Box 69060
Harrisburg, PA 17106
Attention: Board Clerk