Monroe County-based Mount Airy Casino’s application for a mini-casino in Beaver County has been denied by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).
The Wednesday decision according to board officials was due to the business’s inability to source adequate funding required for the Category 4 casino project.
“No category four casino will be built in the Beaver County area.”
Chief counsel for to PGCB, Doug Sherman, said during the hearing…
“Despite Mount Airy’s reasonable efforts to attempt to obtain funding for that project, there were unable to do so. Therefore, they are not able to satisfy financial requirements to establish the operational viability of this particular project,” according to a report from local newspaper the Beaver County Times.
Mount Airy’s proposed casino that was to be situated near Interstate 376 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike was reportedly to feature 750 slot machines, 30 table games and a trio of restaurants.
For its part, Chief Operating Officer and General Manager for Mount Airy Casino Resort, Todd Greenberg, said…
“We are very disappointed that Mount Airy Casino Resort will not be moving forward with our proposed Category 4 casino in Beaver County.”
Greenberg went on to explain…
“Unfortunately, external factors such as increased competition from new casinos and nearby destination resorts had a larger impact on our revenues than originally anticipated. This additional competition combined with other recent developments such as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the local share assessment had a negative impact on our ability to procure financing for the Beaver County project.“
In February, Mount Airy #1 LLC won the right to open the eastern state’s third min-casino when its bid of nearly $21.2 million was accepted by the PGCB. The Board’s denial will see 75 percent of that fee returned to the operator, while about $5.3 million will be retained by the state, according to the report.
Soon after the successful bid, and after first conducting a local impact study, a traffic study and other research, Mounty Airy purchased over 100 acres of land near Interstate 376 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike and submitted a formal application to the gaming board to build a mini-casino and entertainment complex in Big Beaver.
The PGCB, at the time, had hoped to auction ten new Category 4 (satellite) licenses before the end of July 2018, featuring minimum $7.5 million bids as a way to help the eastern state fill its bulging $2.2 billion annual budget deficit.
As it turned out, that would hope would not be realized after in July this year state gaming officials approved a motion to re-implement the auction process that ended in April of 2018 after it received zero bids for a sixth license.
On September 6, 2019, the PGCB hosted an auction to begin the bidding process again for satellite casino licensing. However, the Board’s second attempt also failed to draw in any bids after the first five auctions garnered $127 million in bids to secure the right to obtain licensing.
Courtesy of wide-ranging gaming legislation signed into law by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf in October 2017, the Gaming Control Board was authorized to award up to 10 Category 4 Slot Machine Operator Licenses through an auction process that was conducted from January to April 2018.
Chairman of the Beaver County Board of Commissioners, Daniel Camp, reportedly said that he was disappointed in the decision…
“It’s disappointing that representatives from Mount Airy held up prime property in Big Beaver borough that could have been developed into different uses for so long,“ Camp said. “It is a hit to the county.“
Currently, two of the projects have received approval by the Board to begin construction. According to the PGCB, they include:
- Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, LLC, the operator of Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, bid of $7,5000,003 was awarded a Category 4 license on June 12, 2019, for a satellite casino in Caernarvon Township, Berks County.
- Stadium Casino, LLC‘s winning bid of $40,100,005 was awarded a Category 4 license on August 14, 2019, to construct a satellite facility in Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County. The operator is also constructing a much larger Category 2 casino in Philadelphia.
In addition to Mount Airy #1, LLC, two Category 4 projects have submitted applications, after winning at auction last year, with their final award still pending. They include Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, LLC, which is seeking a second Category 4 license to construct a mini-casino in Springettsbury Township, York County, after a successful bid price of $50,100,000, and Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment Inc., operates the Parx Casino and after a winning bid price of $8,111,000 seeks a license to construct a satellite casino in Shippensburg Township, Cumberland County.