Mount Airy And Mohegan Bring PA Sportsbook Licensee Tally To Nine

There are only four PA casinos not pursuing sports betting now that both Mount Airy and MOhegan Sun Pocono have started the application process.

The frozen sportsbook tundra that was northeast Pennsylvania may have a thaw in sight.

This past week, news broke that that Mohegan Sun Pocono submitted petitions to provide legalized sports betting via a land-based sportsbook. Also, as the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) confirmed, Mount Airy also submitted a petition.

A look at Mohegan Sun’s petition

Downs Racing, who owns Mohegan Sun, filed their petition on Mar. 27, according to a copy of the petition that PAOnlineCasino obtained. The petition reads:

“Downs Racing is seeking a certificate to offer all types of sports wagering permitted by Pennsylvania law and intends to offer a combination of land-based, mobile, and interactive sports wagering.”

It goes on to say that Downs Racing expects that launching a sportsbook will provide further benefit to the Commonwealth. The group also noted that it paid around $123 million in taxes to the state for its 2016-2017 fiscal year.

“Downs Racing has also made sizeable donations to local agencies, charitable efforts and community-based organizations,” the petition says.

As for the types of sports betting the casino will offer, its petition says they want to provide wagering across all permitted platforms. This would include PA online sports betting.

A look at Mount Airy’s petition

The copy of Mount Airy’s petition PA Online Casino obtained contains a note that the casino filed the petition on Mar. 29.

“It is anticipated that the addition of sports wagering will enhance the Mt. Airy facility, increasing its competitiveness in the regional gaming market by providing a significant amenity for gaming patrons,” the petition noted. “If sports wagering is authorized at the Mt. Airy facility, significant economic benefits will be realized by the Commonwealth and Commonwealth residents”

According to the petition, the casino plans to offer land-based, online, and interactive sports wagering. With these platforms, the casino notes that it should take around 36 months to reach its mature projected tax revenue.

The petition goes on to say that the casino’s immediate plans are to provide sports wagering via kiosks on the gaming floor.

Schematics indicating exactly where these kiosks go were not available via the petition we studied.

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Online betting expected this summer

At the beginning of the year, all seemed positive for Pennsylvania casinos who wanted to launch sportsbooks. However, the Department of Justice ruled in February that online gambling fell under the jurisdiction of the Wire Act.

This somewhat surprising decision created problems for sportsbook operators who planned on using existing servers in New Jersey, for example. Now, Pennsylvania sports betting data through those servers is not an option. As a result, the properties need to quickly execute a contingency plan.

The Wire Act forbids this because it forbids moving money and information across state lines. Moreover, the new opinion also has to potential to redefine what constitutes an out-of-state transaction in a much narrower manner.

As a result, the PGCB’s executive director Kevin O’Toole revealed during a budget hearing in Harrisburg in March that the projected launch date for online gambling — sports betting included — would be postponed until the summer, although some experts predict at least on book goes online later this month.

PokerStars Officially A Part Of The PA Online Poker Galaxy

PokerStars is set to launch in Pennsylvania in early 2019 after getting approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board last week.

PokerStars is set to launch in Pennsylvania in early 2019 after getting the thumbs up from PA regulators last week.

At its latest meeting Nov. 28, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approved the global online poker giant’s PA interactive gaming petition. This opens the door for PokerStars to launch an online poker and PA online casino site in the Commonwealth in the first quarter of 2019.

PokerStars’ parent company The Stars Group inked a deal to operate in PA under Mount Airy Casino Resort‘s license this past August. At the time, both sides said the plan included the launch of a full suite of online gambling products, plus sports betting under The Stars Group’s BetStars brand. However, neither side has applied for a PA sports betting license as of yet.

PokerStars in the US

Up until now, New Jersey lawmakers have been alone in allowing PokerStars to operate in the US. In fact, the US Department of Justice closed the US market to PokerStars in 2011. At the time, the DOJ charged its principals with a number of money laundering and bank fraud offenses.

PokerStars has since changed ownership and settled the case. It returned to the US in 2016, launching PokerStars NJ in the fenced-in New Jersey market.

There, PokerStars NJ operates under the Resorts Casino Hotel NJ online gambling license. Resorts Casino Hotel is managed by the Mohegan Tribe and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, which also owns and operates Mohegan Sun Pocono in PA.

Mohegan Sun Pocono

At its Nov. 28 meeting, the PGCB also approved Mohegan Sun Pocono’s interactive gaming petition. It is moving forward on slots and table games, but withdrew the online poker portion of its application.

Mohegan Sun Pocono is now moving ahead with an online casino operation that shouldshe  launch in early 2019.

Now that PokerStars is set to launch in a second US state, its hopes for further expansion across the US are two-fold.

First of all, PokerStars will be eagerly anticipating PA lawmakers signing the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association (MSIGA) agreement.

PA joining MSIGA will allow PokerStars to share player pools between its NJ and PA sites. However, PokerStars will launch in a fenced-in PA market and all indications are it will be at least a year before PA lawmakers sign on to MSIGA.

PokerStars and Eldorado

Plus, on Nov. 26, The Stars Group inked an agreement with US casino operator Eldorado Resorts, Inc. The deal gives The Stars Group the option to operate online sports betting and online gambling with Eldorado casino properties in 11 different states.

The 11 states covered in the agreement are:

  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • West Virginia

However, it’s unclear which state the company will go to next.

Of these 11 states, only Nevada has any kind of online gambling legislation on the books.

However, Nevada’s online gambling laws prevent PokerStars from entering its online poker market. The law includes “bad-actor” language instituting a lifetime ban on operators who accepted US customers after Congress passed The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. PokerStars is among these operators.

Mississippi and West Virginia have launched legal sports betting. If either state approves online and mobile operations, they could be next for The Stars Group after PA.

On the online gambling front, Illinois is the most likely from this list to pass legislation in the near future. Although, it remains unclear if Illinois lawmakers will follow Nevada’s lead on ‘bad actor’ language, or be open to PokerStars like NJ and PA.

Mount Airy Pittsburgh Will Be The Talk Of The Town Tuesday

Mount Airy’s mini-casino project in Big Beaver will be the subject of discussion at a Dec. 4 hearing hosted by PGCB for residents to speak on the property.

We have finally gotten an update on one of the biggest mini-casino projects coming to a Pennsylvania town near you in the not-too-distant future.

The Mount Airy Pittsburgh mini-casino in Big Beaver from Mount Airy Casino has come into further focus thanks to the release of the casino application ahead of this coming Tuesday’s Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) hearing.

The details aren’t exactly groundbreaking, but they bring an added layer of clarity for community members interested in vetting the large-scale project before it breaks ground near their home. Additionally, they provide gaming officials a starting point for their background investigation.

Mount Airy Pittsburgh

Of course, not all of the 434-page application could be shared with the public.

Certain elements, such as private financial information, were redacted. However, when it comes to the facts and figures of the casino’s actual layout, we’ve gotten clear answers.

Patrons of Mount Airy Pittsburgh can expect a mini-casino in line with the others currently already in-progress, such as Hollywood Casino York. That means:

  • 750 slot machines
  • A 225-plus seat buffet
  • A three-venue food court
  • A sports bar and restaurant with seating for at least 125 people
  • A coffee outlet

Pennsylvania mini-casinos, of course, are allowed to house anywhere from 300 to 750 slots, as well as 30 table games.

At launch, the casino will feature 30 table games, with an expected expansion to 40 table games sometime in the future.

“We’re still feeling our way through,” Richard McGarvey, a spokesman for the PGCB said of the mini-casino vetting process. “It’s not as time-consuming (as a traditional casino license); we’re already aware of most of the individuals involved with the project. We don’t have to start from ground zero, which helps along with the investigation.”

The proposed project will reside at the intersection of Fairlane Boulevard and Shenango Road in Big Beaver, with opening possible as soon as late 2019.

Early estimates — from Mount Airy, of course, so take these with a hefty helping of salt — suggest as many as 600 to 800 permanent full-time jobs will come into the community along with the casino.

Additionally, 300 construction jobs should open up as well, once construction actually begins.

PGCB hearing info

Plans for the project will be presented at a public hearing at the Big Beaver Fire Station along Friendship Road at 1 p.m. on Dec. 4.

The public is, of course, encouraged to sign up to speak, but must do so in advance through the PGCB website.

“We have to do background checks on everyone involved,” McGarvey said. “We’re looking at their criminal history, financial history and regulatory history. Is their financing in order? How will this project be financed and is it feasible?

“We want to know, ‘Can it be done?’”

The application also includes a third-party report, prepared by Labella Associates, a Rochester, N.Y.-based planning firm, that addresses the casino’s expected impact on the surrounding community.

According to the report, infrastructure already exists to handle utilities, including:

  • Gas
  • Electric
  • Water
  • Sewage

A traffic study suggests that, due to the project’s proximity to major highways, there won’t be a negative impact on traffic patterns, though there’s already talk that added public transportation stops may be necessary.

Expected to speak at the hearing are a number of people with varying interests in the project’s ultimate future. They include:

  • John Goberish of the workforce and continuing education division at the Community College of Beaver County;
  • Bradley Wetzel, speaking in support of the licensure;
  • Larry Nelson of Beaver County Building Trades; and,
  • county Commissioner Chairman Daniel Camp.

“Several local residents have reached out to me in support of it and wanted me to be there as their voice of support,” Camp said in a statement. “I think it’s my responsibility to be there to support it, both professionally and personally.”

Following Tuesday’s hearing and the PGCB’s investigation, a final public meeting will be held in Harrisburg in 2019. At that point, the board will make a final decision.

Mount Airy And PokerStars Enter Into Committed PA Gambling Partnership

Mount Airy may be a small Pennsylvania casino, but it landed a big-time partner for online casino and sports betting in PokerStars owner The Stars Group.

Mount Airy Casino Resort is making moves.

The casino that managed to get a law-protected buffer from satellite casinos as well as satellite casino — Mount Airy Pittsburgh — has now announced it will partner with The Stars Group to offer online sports betting and an online casino, pending licensing approvals from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).

“Offering internet sports wagering and gaming and partnering with The Stars Group is the obvious next step for us to continue diversifying our casino offerings,” Mount Airy Vice President of Marketing and Gaming Operations Vincent Jordan said in a press release. “Introducing internet gaming through The Stars Group will provide compelling opportunities for our customers, particularly our younger customers, who are ready to experience the next gaming challenge.”

According to multiple reports, PokerStars, one of The Stars Group’s companies, will run Mount Airy’s online casino, online sports betting, and online poker.

Details of potenital Mount Airy online offerings

The press release from Mount Airy and The Stars Group did not go into detail about what their online platform would look like.

However, they did provide a somewhat basic framework of what could be ahead:

  • Single account
  • Common wallet between casino, sports betting and poker platforms
  • Multiple deposit and withdrawal options
  • “Seamless offering of betting and gaming options”

The Stars Group’s reputation certainly warrants that their product will be excellent, as their multiple brands include respected names like PokerStars, Full Tilt and BetStars.

The group’s announcement earlier this week is the second time this month they’ve made news. On Aug. 1, they announced that BetStars won approval for a sports betting license through Resorts Casino in Atlantic City.

Mount Airy second in PA to announce online gambling, sports betting

In mid-July, Parx Casino announced its partnership with online operator GAN, a well-known company whose relationship with Parx goes all the way back to 2015.

The partnership broke what was a somewhat awkward silence during a period of time when the online gambling community wondered when the PGCB would get applications for online sports betting.

It certainly made sense that Parx, the perennial revenue champion in the state, led the way with the first online sports-betting and online casino partnership; the first in the history of the state, to be exact.

That it took some time for casinos to petition for sports betting and online casino licenses led many to wonder if the state’s tax rate for sports betting — 36 percent — was scaring off casinos.

While the rate is more than four times as high as neighboring New Jersey, it did not deter Parx and Mount Airy. High taxes or not, online gambling presents a revenue opportunity, an opportunity that at least two casinos are happy to embrace.

Big News For Big Beaver, The New Home Of Mount Airy Pittsburgh

The second mini-casino to actually have construction plans is Mount Airy Pittsburgh. The resort-style satellite property will call Big Beaver, PA home.

Big Beaver, PA, it’s time to celebrate.

Earlier today, Mount Airy Casino Resort announced that the cartoonishly-named township will be the site of Mount Airy Pittsburgh, a Category 4 mini-casino.

“For over a decade, Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Poconos has paved the way as one of the nation’s most dynamic, upscale destination casino resorts,” managing trustee and owner Lisa DeNaples said in the release. “Our thoughtful expansion into the Pittsburgh and tri-state area represents a huge milestone in our effort to do what we live and breathe every day: provide award-winning customer service and luxury amenities to more people.”

The news makes Mount Airy the second casino to announce the exact location of their mini casino. Stadium Casino LLC is the other, having announced this past month their plans to put their casino in a Westmoreland County mall.

Mount Airy’s satellite is the anti-mall casino

Whereas Stadium will integrate a casino into an existing mall, Mount Airy is starting with a clean slate. Here’s what we know the property will feature so far, based on Mount Airy’s press release:

  • 750 slots and 30 table games
  • High-limit area and sports bar
  • The Friedmutter Group will design the property
  • Property will create around 700 jobs

Based on the press release, it seems as though Mount Airy hopes to recreate the high-end experience they’ve popularized in the Poconos.

The Friedmutter Group is a world-renowned design firm. Their resume includes The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.

According to the press release, the mini-casino is phase one of a two-step project. The second phase will include:

  • A resort-hotel
  • Convention center
  • Fine dining
  • Pool
  • Spa
  • Salon

The following quote from DeNaples summarizes what Mount Airy is hoping to do with their satellite:

“We envision the casino as just the start of building something truly special for the tri-state area. Imagine not just a casino, but a destination that raises industry-wide expectations and standards – serving as a phenomenal gathering space for celebrations and live entertainment and bringing upwards of 700 jobs to regional residents.”

The mini-casino construction should start by the end of this year and finish in late 2019.

Where we’re at with satellite casinos across the state

While Mount Airy and Stadium Casino have found luck with townships who want them, the same can’t be said for Penn National, who holds two mini-casino licenses.

They proposed putting a casino in a mall in York County; residents would have none of it during a public hearing about the possibility of having a casino in their midst.

Parx, the only other satellite licensee, also faced some pushback from residents in two separate townships in Cumberland County.

With Mount Airy and Stadium now on track to break ground on their new casinos, we should see an announcement of similar news from Parx and Penn National during the next month or two.

Three PA Online Casino Applicants, Will More Apply In Time?

Parx, Stadium Casino, and Mount Airy all applied for the comprehensive online gaming licenses, but did any other casinos sneak in before the deadline?

Up until this past week, not a single Pennsylvania casino applied or petitioned for an online gambling license of any form.

That changed on Thursday when Philadelphia’s Parx Casino became the first of three casinos to apply for the $10 million all-in-one online gambling license.  It includes licenses for online table games, poker, and slots.

Casinos had until July 15 to apply for the all-in-one license. With the deadline now passed, casinos must pay the a la carte price of $4 million for a slots, table games, or a poker license.

The three applicants: Parx, Mount Airy, Stadium

One of the more interesting facets of the online gambling applications is the fact that the three casinos which applied reflect three different types of PA casinos.

Parx is the state’s flagship casino. Its revenue numbers consistently reach the top spot. This past June, it was the only casino to surpass $30 million in slots revenue ($34.84 million). It finished over $10 million ahead of over runner-up Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.

Mount Airy, on the other hand, is one of the state’s lowest-grossing properties. The property brought in $12.85 million in slots revenue this past month. That is roughly 36 percent of what Parx earned in June.

The final applicant is a yet-to-be-constructed property owned by Stadium Casino LLC.

Applicants all have mini-casinos too

Parx, Mount Airy, and Stadium Casino have the distinction of being the only casinos to apply for both an all-inclusive gambling license as well as a satellite casino license.

This licensed triumvirate now has the luxury of earning revenue from three different sources: land-based casino, online casino, and satellite casino.

Exactly how much revenue they’ll earn through these two new streams is a figure yet to be estimated. There’s a good chance we’ll know the online gambling figures sooner than later. After all, neighboring New Jersey has shown that the path from licensure to a fully operational casino can take just a matter of months.

Satellite casinos are a whole different beast. Construction needs to begin, staff needs to be hired, permits need to be secured, and a litany of other small details need to be finalized.

There’s a good chance the first satellite casino won’t be open for at least 18 months.

Down the road: A la carte applications ahead?

With the deadline passed you have to wonder if any other PA casinos will make a move to get an individual license for table games, slots, or poker.

Likely candidates may be casinos who’ve yet to spend money on satellite casinos. These are:

Of these eight casinos, owners of some of these casinos have partnerships in other states with online gambling operators. Others also have deals in place with iGaming providers.

PA Online Casinos Will Have Limited Skins…With Some Limitations

The PA Gaming Control Board recently released temporary regulations for online casinos, including a ruling on skins, which will be unlimited but feature the host casino’s branding.

For the past two months, Pennsylvania casinos and their iGaming partners waited patiently for a clarification on the all-important matter of “skins“, a term that refers to how many iGaming websites one casino can operate under a single license.

Parx Casino argued that casinos should only have one site per license. Meanwhile, global iGaming firm 888 argued that PA casinos should be able to feature multiple sites under one license.

This past week, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) provided clarity on the matter via a press release.

PGCB Executive Director Kevin O’Toole addressed the issue as part of the board’s update of its temporary regulations governing iGaming when it launches later this year:

“Under these temporary regulations there is no limitation on the number of skins that a slot machine licensee may employ to deliver games, but every ‘skin’ that a casino offers must be branded in a manner that makes it clear that it is offered on behalf of the slot machine licensee consistent with language of the act.”

PGCB statement is clear…to a certain extent

O’Toole’s quote would lead one to believe that Pennsylvania casinos could operate multiple iGaming websites with a single license.

The phrase “no limitation” is the driving force here. At first read, it seems to indicate that Pennsylvania’s online gambling industry could resemble what we see in New Jersey. In the Garden State, casinos can operate up to five casinos with one license.

However, the confusion comes later in the quote when O’Toole says that the site must clearly present the licensee’s branding. In other words, an online gambling website run under Mount Airy’s license must feature Mount Airy’s branding.

Websites could feature dual branding

The “must be branded in a manner that makes it clear that it is offered on behalf of the slot machine licensee ” phrasing presents a sort of hybrid skins model. Under this, a casino can run multiple sites as long as those sites reflect the casino’s branding.

The reason this format could be considered a hybrid is because it makes a nod to Parx’s argument that the site should only push the casino’s brand. However, it also considers 888’s argument that a casino should be able to operate multiple sites and leverage its partner’s brand power.

In a practical sense , this most likely would result in URL’s that would feature both the casino’s name and the operator’s name. For example, 888.mountairyonlinecasino.com.

For comparison’s sake, New Jersey’s Golden Nugget Casino runs four online casinos via its one license. These are:

  • www.GoldenNuggetCasino.com
  • nj-casino.goldennuggetcasino.com
  • betfaircasino.com
  • playsugarhouse.com.

The first two domains are Nugget-centric. They feature the name of the casino and nothing else. The second two, Betfaircasino.com and playsugarhouse.com, feature URL’s that reflect the partner operating under Golden Nugget’s license.

Based on what O’Toole said in his “clarification” quote, there’s a good chance that we won’t see an URL mentioning only the casino’s partner’s name.

However, the PGCB hasn’t clarified this point. Ttherefore, nothing can be concluded with certainty.

Mount Airy Beats Out Sands, Parx For Third Mini Casino

With a $21 million bid, Mount Airy secured the third mini casino license in Pennsylvania, which it will use to build a satellite property near Youngstown, OH.

The state of Pennsylvania is $112 million richer, thanks to its third satellite casino auction. Mount Airy won the bigging for a license with a $21 million bid. The casino plans to build their satellite in Lawrence County.

According to the Morning Call, Lawrence County leaders sent out letters to the state’s existing casino trying to convince them of the county’s readiness to welcome a satellite to their area.

County commissioner chairman Dan Vogler said he and his colleagues were waiting on the results of the lottery to find out who won and where the winner would build their property.

“We watched it here this morning, and we were very pleased with how it transpired,” Vogler said.

Mount Airy became the third casino in three auctions to win a license. Penn National scored the first one with a $51 million bid, while Stadium Gaming LLC snagged the second one for $41 million.

Mount Airy beat out two other casinos

Per the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s rules, the auctions take place at 10 a.m. Bidders provide the auction board with two envelopes — one contains the casino’s bid and one contains the coordinates of where the casino plans on building their satellite.

After the auction was over, the board released the results: Sands and Parx’s bids lagged behind Mount Airy’s offer.

Satellite site just a few miles from 500,000 people

What makes the satellite casino auctions so fascinating isn’t just the bidding; it’s the strategy.

For example, Penn National won the first satellite license. Its mini-casino will pop up in Yoe County, which gives it access to Maryland residents driving up the interstate to gamble in Pennsylvania. However, there aren’t any major cities near the Maryland-Pennsylvania border.

Stadium Gaming LLC, the group who will soon break ground on Philadelphia’s second casino, won the second satellite license auction. Their site is just outside Pittsburgh, a move that will capture coming from the east of the metropolis and will, it seems, cut into Rivers’ revenue.

Mount Airy’s Lawrence County location may be the most ingenious of all of them because their site will be a 30-minute drive from Youngstown, OH, a city whose urban and surrounding area is home to more than 500,000 people.

The city does have a racino — Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Racetrack — but the property has no slot machines or table games, two things the satellite property will offer.

A look into the future of the remaining seven satellite licenses

There are two factors that stand at the forefront of the discussion about Pennsylvania’s remaining seven satellite licenses.

First, there’s a good chance prices may decline as each new license comes up for auction. The first license went for around $50 million, the second for $41 and third for $21 million. The minimum bid is $7.5 million. The downward trend points to the next license selling for less than $20 million, but it’s no guarantee.

Second, strategy may dictate who bids and when. For example, Stadium Gaming’s plans to build just a few miles east of Pittsburgh may push Rivers to make a move for a satellite and capture some of the revenue they’ll inevitably lose from the Stadium property.

SugarHouse, the original Philadelphia casino, may also feel pressure from Stadium Gaming’s satellite. While the satellite won’t cut into SugarHouse’s revenue, the money Stadium earns from that second location could be leveraged to strengthen their soon-to-be-constructed Philadelphia location through better marketing, expanded entertainment venues, and other avenues of growth.

Penn National Fighting Satellite Casino Battle On Two Fronts

Penn National Gaming has entered into a battle with the state of Pennsylvania over satellite casinos and is defending its Hollywood Casino on at least two fronts.

Penn National Gaming has entered into a battle with the state of Pennsylvania over satellite casinos. The company is defending its Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course on at least two fronts.

First off, the Pennsylvania-based gaming and hospitality giant filed a lawsuit in federal court in Harrisburg this past Tuesday. The suit alleges the state’s plan to allow the construction of up to 10 satellite casinos will cause “significant and unique harm” to Hollywood Casino.

Secondly, Penn National Gaming outbid other PA casino owners and operators for the right to develop the state’s first satellite casino. The company bid a whopping $50.1 million for the right to go ahead with a satellite casino of its own in York County.

The radius around the new site, and the number of area municipalities opting out of hosting a satellite casino prior to the bidding process, would essentially give Penn National Gaming exclusive casino gambling rights in a large portion of south central Pennsylvania.

The satellite casino buffer zones

State lawmakers passed a comprehensive gambling expansion bill in October 2017. Alongside the authorization of online gambling, the new laws allow for the construction of up to ten satellite casinos, each with up to 750 slot machines.

The plan created a 25-mile buffer zone around existing casino properties so these new satellite gambling operations wouldn’t draw business away from them.

Municipalities who don’t want a satellite casino were invited to opt out of hosting one. Then, the bidding process opened up to owners and operators of Pennsylvania’s 12 existing casinos. The minimum bid is $7.5 million, plus $2.5 million for a gaming license. Auction winners can also buy a separate certificate to operate up to 30 table games for $2.5 million.

Penn National Gaming cries foul

However, Penn National Gaming has been crying foul from the start.

Company executives claim Hollywood Casino faces more competition from satellite casinos than any other Pennsylvania casino operation. It maintains these satellite casinos will poach its statewide customer base. Plus, it says other casino properties are being better protected by the law.

Penn National Gaming says casinos built closer together in other parts of the state help create larger buffer zones. In effect, that gives these properties more protection than Hollywood Casino enjoys.

Plus, the company claims most of its customers come from outside of 25 miles around the property, exacerbating the issue.

The state responded to Penn National Gaming’s complaints by claiming it would be unfair to change the law to create a larger buffer zone only benefiting one casino.

Mount Airy gets a bigger buffer

However, it may have already done that for Mount Airy Casino Resort. The new law prohibits satellite casinos in sixth-class counties. That nearly triples the buffer around Mount Airy Casino Resort. However, it does nothing for any other PA casino.

The lawsuit claims there was no rational basis for the decision leading to the creation of the buffer zones. It also claims Penn National Gaming is being treated in an arbitrary and inequitable fashion. Plus, Penn National Gaming is claiming its constitutional rights to equal protection and due process have been violated.

State Sen. Mario Scavello, chair of the Senate committee that handled the gambling expansion legislation, has maintained the buffer zones were created based on previous state gambling laws.

Mount Airy Casino Resort is in Scavello’s district. However, he maintains the protection afforded Mount Airy is fair because it provides a cut of revenues to the counties around it.

Penn National Gaming claims it will withdraw its $50.1 million satellite casino bid if it wins the lawsuit.

In the meantime, the satellite casino bidding process continues. The other nine licenses are set to be auctioned off bi-weekly. The next one is scheduled for Jan. 24.

Somebody In The PA Legislature Really Likes Mount Airy Casino

An amendment in the Pennsylvania gambling expansion bill provides a significant buffer for Mount Airy Casino and Resort from satellite casinos.

Amid all the hoopla of the Pennsylvania gambling bill was one small sentence that made a huge difference for the future of Mount Airy Casino and Resort.

That sentence was an amendment to the satellite-casino section of the bill, in which lawmakers were able to slip in the following legal jargon, the meaning of which we’ll cover after the quote:

“A category 4 slot machine license may not be located in a sixth-class county which is contiguous to a county that hosts a category 2 licensed facility.”

As we’ve detailed in past articles, the satellite casino portion of the PA gambling expansion bill allowed for up to 10 mini- casinos with considerably fewer slots and table games than non-satellites.

Part of that rule included a 25-mile buffer between all current casinos and future satellites. The idea is that the 25-mile buffer cuts down on competing casinos losing customers to satellites.

The uniquely-worded amendment mentioned earlier takes that casino protection to the next level, but only for Mount Airy. Mount Airy is a Category 2 casino; satellites are Category 4. Moreover, the counties surrounding Mount Airy’s county are considered sixth-class counties.

What do all these categories add up to? Well, all those various designations mean that Mount Airy has a sweetheart deal.

The buffer around the casino is massive and, as the closest PA casino to New York, it guarantees that no satellite will stand in the way of gamblers coming from the Empire State.

Harrisburg mum on who added amendment

Perhaps the greatest mystery in this whole situation is who added the amendment that provide Mount Airy such a clear advantage over other casinos in the state.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette brought up this interesting discussion in an article earlier this month. After pointing out that lawmakers and politicians in the state capitol have stayed silent on who added the amendment.

The paper then went on to point out that the casino’s original owner, Louis DeNaples, sold off his share in the casino “after he was dogged by claims of ties to organized crimes.”

It’s quite a leap to even allude to the fact that the casino’s found had alleged ties to the mob — the implication is that organized crime had something to do with the amendment.

While that theory is certainly far-fetched, it’s not crazy to think that such a sweetheart deal for Mount Airy had to be added at the last second by virtue of more than just a few convincing conversations with the unnamed penman behind the amendment.