Philadelphia is set for a Super Bowl rematch against New England, the Pennsylvania land-based casino industry has experienced another record breaking year, and the state’s Gaming Control Board (PGCB) is ready for a second “Category 4” mini casino license auction to be held this Wednesday.
Major waves were sent throughout the industry two weeks ago when Penn National submitted a $50.1 million bid to acquire the rights to a satellite casino location near the borough of Yoe — essentially defending its established Grantville position (Hollywood Casino) while ensuring it retains a prime location for northbound Interstate 83 traffic from neighboring Maryland.
On January 24th, the PGCB seeks to attract another windfall payment as nine remaining non-resort casinos within the state’s borders remain eligible to participate in what has quickly become a must-see bidding process.
PA Mini Casino Location Predictions
I’ve made revisions to the PAleague map above to reflect the winning Yoe, Pennsylvania bid placed by Penn National two weeks ago. Although its Grantville casino is now prohibited from participating in further mini casino license auctions until May, the company has recently joined forces with Pinnacle Entertainment, which operates the Meadows racino just outside Pittsburgh.
This could mean that Meadows enters Wednesday’s PGCB bidding process in an attempt to further secure the duo’s positioning along I-76 (westbound from Philadelphia to Harrisburg — marked as #1 on the map above). However, that move would subsequently block Meadows’ eligibility from the first round of auctions while leaving the process open to competitors who could move to place their own mini casino location in close proximity to Miner’s Monument (see #3), just south of the racino’s existing property.
Other high-priority mini casino sites could include I-78 westbound from NYC (near Allentown — see #2), Susquehanna County just a short drive north from the Wilkes-Barre Chili’s restaurant that Michael Scott’s The Office character frequented (see #4), and along I-84 northeast of Harrisburg (see #5).
Which PA Gambling Establishments Are Bidding for Mini Casinos?
Although this information is withheld by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, likely suitors include Meadows and Mount Airy, along with Rush Street Gaming subsidiaries Rivers Pittsburgh and SugarHouse Philadelphia.
Rush Street is in a particularly desirable position thanks to sweeping gambling legislation signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf in October, which includes provisions for the company’s Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs) at designated truck stops.
It is worth noting that only four bids were received during the inaugural January 10th auction conducted by the PGCB.
Will PA Mini Casinos Offer Poker?
Pennsylvania Category 4 licenses allow up to 30 table games during Year 1 of operation, with stipulations for another 10 within the second year and a maximum allotment of 50 once the market has matured.
Of course, table games include house-edge games, so the assumption is that any Pennsylvania mini casino poker offering will be sparse compared to the volume and environment already offered at Parx, SugarHouse, Rivers, Sands and others.
Official data from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (see Page #14) shows that PA house-edge casino tables (defined as “Banking”) generate 14 times as much revenue as peer-to-peer poker games according to current trends. Both Banking and Non-Banking tables are taxed at approximately 16% of Gross Gaming Revenue while slot terminal GGR tax rates work out to about 54 percent. Category 4 locations in PA can house between 300-750 slots.
Mini Casinos Provide Instant Cash To Budget-Strapped PA
Since winning mini casino auction bids are required to fulfill payment obligations to the state within 48 hours, it is not unreasonable that Pennsylvania coffers could inflate by more than $100 million before the current 2017-2018 Fiscal Year concludes on June 30th.
With $50.1 million already collected as a result of Penn National’s January 10th submission, it will be interesting to see which Pennsylvania gambling establishment claims the next mini casino license, how much that bid will be worth, and where the next satellite casino will be built.
If you would like to watch Wednesday’s auction live as it happens, visit the PGCB homepage just before 10:00am Eastern Time on January 24th, then click on the live stream links that will be provided.
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