Penn National subsidiary awarded Category 4 License to construct casino in Morgantown, PA

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has awarded a license to the Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, LLC to build a Category 4 casino in the Pennsylvania Township of Morgantown.

June 12, 2019’s unanimous vote concludes a rigorous process initiated by the Board on April 4, 2018, when a winning bid of USD 7,500,003 placed at the state licensing and regulatory agency’s fifth Category 4 auction saw the Penn National Gaming, Inc. operating arm secure a 15-mile radius area where it could develop a casino.

Application filed:

The Penn National subsidiary filed an application with the PGCB on the last day of October in 2018, to situate Hollywood Casino Morgantown just off the Morgantown exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Stringent process:

Subsequently, along with a thorough background investigation of the application, on March 4 this year, the Board held a public meeting in the community of Morgantown in order to accept input from public officials, community groups and citizens regarding the plan to spend approximately $111 million to bring a miniature casino to Caernarvon Township in Berks County.

According to the official press release…

On the same day, prior to the Wednesday vote, a final licensing hearing was held by the PGCB at which time representatives of Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing were questioned about the project by Board members.

Gaming allocation:

Having been awarded a Category 4 Slot Machine License, the entity will be able to operate between 300 and 750 slot machines. It will also be able to petition the Board to allow it to initially operate as many as 30 table games for an additional fee of $2.5 million. And have the option to add 10 additional table games after it has been operating for a period of one year.

Per the information presented to the PGCB on Wednesday, the new 89,500 square foot satellite casino will include 750 slot machines, 30 table games – with an additional 40 anticipated – a sportsbook, and dining and entertainment facilities.

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Jobs creation:

The creation of 275 construction jobs is expected at the facility, which is targeting an opening date in late 2020. At that time, Hollywood Casino Morgantown would reportedly have ‘250 full-time equivalent jobs.’

The project’s approval on June 12, followed a hearing in Harrisburg on the same day in which PGCB members were furnished with an update and directed questions regarding the development to representatives of Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association.

Expected annual contribution:

According to an earlier report, the venue is expected to contribute approximately $94.3 million to the local economy every year including some $1.6 million for Caernarvon Township. And that Pennsylvania’s twelve existing casinos have paid around $1.4 billion in combined taxes since 2006 courtesy of aggregated gross gaming revenues that have surpassed $3.2 billion.

Penn National portfolio:

Wyomissing-based Penn National Gaming owns, operates or possesses ownership interests in racing and gaming facilities and video gaming terminal operations with an emphasis on slot machine entertainment. Currently, it operates 41 facilities in 18 jurisdictions, and in aggregate, operates more than 49,400 gaming machines, 1,200 table games, and 8,800 hotel rooms. The company also offers social online gaming through its Penn Interactive Ventures division.

The publicly traded company has approximately 30,000 employees and has already paid the Commonwealth a $7.5 million license fee to locate a mini casino in the area. It was the second winning bid for the entity, having won the right to build a casino at the York Galleria Mall near the Borough of Yoe in York County, with a $50,100,000 million bid in January at the first auction.

State’s five licenses:

In 2018, under a sealed bidding process, five licenses for Category 4 (satellite or mini) casinos were awarded before not receiving one bid for a sixth at the April 18, 2018 auction.

The awards were courtesy of Governor, Tom Wolf’s, October 2017 approval of a far-reaching revenue package that included expanded gambling in the state, including the creation of 10 satellite casinos. The five winning bids surpassed the state’s estimate of $100 million in the event that all 10 Category 4 licenses were sold at the required minimum of $7.5 million (slots) and  $2.5 million (table games), with the bids totaling just over $127 million for the five licenses alone.

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Stadium Casino LLC, whose flagship casino in South Philadelphia is under construction, will build its own satellite casino in the Westmoreland Mall outside of Pittsburgh, while Mount Airy Casino Resort won the rights to locate a satellite casino north of Pittsburgh. And Parx Casino in Bensalem expects to build a satellite casino just off I-81 in the Shippensburg borough in Cumberland and Franklin counties.

Online gambling landscape:

The legislation also saw the Keystone State become the fourth state after Nevada, New Jersey and West Virginia to legalize online sportsbetting. As a result, Pennsylvania just recently announced that it anticipates the first series of online casino and poker sites will launch during the week beginning on July 15.

In a Wednesday, April 17, 2019, meeting of the PGCB 7BALL CC , the Boards executive director, Kevin O’Toole, said…

“Staff has reviewed the estimated time that it would take for us and the industry to complete all necessary steps, and it is our view that 90 days would be adequate. Accordingly, I have advised the 10 iGaming certificate holders and three iGaming operators that a coordinated go-live period for interactive gaming will commence on July 15, 2019.”