Pennsylvania on Wednesday approved the state’s third “mini casino” license, and the second to occupy a former anchor department-store location in a regional mall that has suffered from an exodus of conventional retailers.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board voted unanimously to award a license to a subsidiary of Penn National Gaming to construct the satellite casino in the York Galleria Mall. The mini-casino, which will be affiliated with the company’s Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, has leased an 80,000-square-foot building that until last year was occupied by a Sears department store.
Construction is already underway at Hollywood Casino York, and it is expected to open in about 12 to 13 months, Penn National officials told the gaming board Wednesday. The facility, which will operate a single floor, will have 500 slot machines, 24 table games, a sports-betting and off-track betting parlor, as well as dining and beverage services.
The facility expects to create 260 construction jobs, and after operations are stabilized, it expects to have a full-time workforce of 200 people and generate about $1 million in annual tax and fee revenue for Springettsbury Township, the host community.
Satellite casinos, which are formally called Category 4 casinos, are a unique feature of the expanded Pennsylvania gaming law passed in 2017. The law allowed the state’s existing casino licensees to bid on satellite locations of up to 750 slot machines and 30 table games.
Casinos bid on five locations for the satellite facilities, generating $127 million in fees for the state on winning bids ranging between $7.5 million and $50.1 million. Mount Airy Casino Resort later backed out of its rights to place a satellite casino north of Pittsburgh after failing to secure financing, and got 75% of its $21.2 million fee refunded.
The General Assembly later approved a second round of bidding for mini-casino licenses, but casinos did not bid and the market for new licenses is now closed.
The two other mini-casinos previously received gaming board approval: Penn National is opening Hollywood Casino Morgantown in Berks County, next to the Pennsylvania Turnpike; and Stadium Casino LLC in Philadelphia last month broke ground on its Live! Casino Pittsburgh, which will be in a repurposed department store in the Westmoreland Mall outside Greensburg.
The only facility that remains to get final approval is Parx Casino’s proposal to build a satellite casino in Shippensburg, but plans have stalled after its site was found to have sinkholes, and Parx is looking for a new location.