Hollywood Casino Morgantown

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has outlined plans to introduce more mini casinos into the state, with an auction process for a category four licence set to begin later this year.

This follows a similar such process undertaken from January to April last year, when five successful bids raised a combined $127m for the right to proceed with construction.

Under the Gaming Expansion Act 2017, ten category four slot machine operator licences were up for grabs, with the first of those, Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino Morgantown, slated to open next year.

Only the state’s 13 licensed casino operators can bid for the right to develop a satellite entity for an established minimum bid price of $7.5m once again, with a separate certificate to permit the use of table games able to be obtained from the PGCB for a $2.5m fee.

A category four licencee may include between 300 and 750 slot machines, along with a maximum of 30 table games at opening with the capability of adding an additional ten after its first year of operation.

Following the auction process, winning bidders must pay the stipulated amount no later than 4pm on the second business day after the date of the auction, following which six months will be permitted to submit a further application detailing an exact location of the proposed property.

To that end, state decision makers made one key alternation to its previous auction process, with a 40 mile (64 kilometre) radius having to be established from any of the existing or prospective 18 locations, a sharp increase from the previously established 25 miles (40 kilometre).

The first auction round is scheduled from September 4, 2019, with up to five rounds of bidding permitted until the cut off date on the last day of the year.

With local media reporting a degree of uncertainty as to the appetite to introduce further properties by Pennsylvania operators, should no bids emanate the auction will close.

Previous winners of a category four licence during the PGCB’s 2018 auction were:

  • Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, operator of Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, won with bids of $50.1m and $7.5m for constructions in York and Berks County.
  • Stadium Casino, which is constructing its flagship category 2 Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia, secured the right to construct a satellite casino in Westmoreland County for $40.1m
  • Mount Airy Casino Resort bid $21.1m for its Beaver County proposition.
  • Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, which operates the Parx Casino, secured the green-light to proceed in Cumberland County for $8.1m.