It was last November that Penn National Gaming announced their intentions to build the $111 million Hollywood Casino Morgantown in the Caernarvon Township in Berks County. Now the ambitious project is entering a new stage with a hearing that will allow the public to comment.
The hearing is scheduled for March 4th before construction is expected to begin sometime later this year. After a relatively quiet period over the last few months, PA mini-casinos including the Holywood Casino Morgantown are moving forward.
Details of the Hollywood Casino Morgantown site
The location of the proposed casino is about 15 miles southeast of the initial location, originally announced as West Cocalico. The proposed casino will be located on a vacant site near where the Pennsylvania I-76 Turnpike meets I-176 and the Morgantown Express. The site was selected for its central location in the western Philadelphia suburbs as well of ease of access, said Penn National CEO Timothy Wilmott.
“While we explored numerous locations… the site we selected is unparalleled in terms of ease of access to three major arteries.”
The casino would be placed on a 36-acre site that will house and 30 table games as well as a restaurant, entertainment lounge and food court.
Penn National estimates that as many as 525 jobs could come to Berks County including 250 permanent local jobs.
Penn National, of course, runs the Hollywood Casino located near Harrisburg. Bidding for the Morgantown Casino license occurred in early April when Penn National bid $7.5 million for the rights. It was the second mini-casino auction won by Penn National, having previously won the first mini-casino action in early January when they bid a head-turning $50 million for a site near York, PA.
The company chose the mini casino sites to protect its Hollywood Casino location, which sits in relative isolation to most of the state’s existing casinos.
The upcoming hearing will be held on March 4th at 4 PM at the Caernarvon Township municipal building’s social hall and will allow attendees to voice opposition or the support for the location.
Attendees wishing to speak at the hearing will need to register online and submit written comments by March 1st. After the March 4th hearing, another yet-to-be-determined hearing will be held in Harrisburg to allow Penn National another opportunity to provide oral arguments and answer questions from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The board will then decide whether to sign-off on the Hollywood Casino Morgantown location.
All this will not happen overnight, so Pennsylvania players and Berk County citizens will likely have to wait weeks or months before a decision is finalized.
What about the other mini casinos?
In total, PA casinos bid for five mini casinos locations — out of a possible ten — throughout the early part of 2018. Although a flurry of activity occurred last year, no casino has broken ground. In addition to the Penn National Morgantown mini casino, plans are in the works for the five locations selected last year, with most expected to be built over the next couple years.
Penn National York – The first mini casino location was bid by Penn National for over $50.1 million. Current plans are to bring the casino to the Springettsbury Township mall, where business has been hurt in the age of online shopping. Although an initial public hearing was held with Springettsburty last year, a hearing date with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has yet to be announced.
Stadium Casino Greenburg – Stadium Companies bid $40.1 million for the second mini-casino license in early 2018. They intend to place their casino at the Westmoreland Mall in Greensburg, occupying the location of the Bon Ton department store. An initial hearing was held at the Hempfield Municipal Building in early December with a PGCB decision expected sometime early this year. The casino will take 10-12 months to be built.
Mount Airy Casino in Big Beaver – Mount Airy bid 21.2 million to place a casino in Big Beaver in February. The latest big news to come out of the project was an early December hearing, where the casino said they want to place the casino near the intersection of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-376. After a PGCB approval, the new satellite casino would undergo a 16-month construction timeframe.
Parx Casino in Shippensburg – In February 2018, Greenwood Gaming’s Parx Casino bid for the fourth mini casino. They choose a 10-acre site in the Shippensburg Township located off of Exit 29. The Parx Casino hopes to launch theur mini-casino sometime in 2020. A public hearing is scheduled for March 25th.