Mount Airy Casino Owners Bid $21.9 Million For Third Mini Casino License

The winning bid for the third Pennsylvania mini-casino was announced by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on Thursday morning. The winning bid goes to the ownership group of the Mount Airy Casino Resort, whose $21.9 million bid was the highest of three bids. The company intends to put the new mini-casino in Western Pennsylvania, north of Pittsburgh.

The next mini casino license auction is slated for February 21st.

What happened

The current Mount Airy Casino is located in the Pocono Mountains on the eastern side of the state with competition from many other casinos in the area including the Mohegan Sun Pocono and Sands Bethlehem. The casino generated nearly $148 million in slot revenue in 2017, ninth in the state.

With their bid, the Mount Airy ownership group is hoping to expand their reach into a different part of the state. The new mini-casino will be placed in New Castle, located in Lawrence county. This area is significant because the county borders Ohio and serves in a attractive location between the casinos of Pittsburgh to the south and Presque Isle Downs and Casino to the north.

The casino will attract patrons along the I-376 corridor as well as into Eastern Ohio. Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley is around 40 minutes away and could serve as competition to residents of Youngstown.

Officials from Lawrence county have tried for more than ten years to attract a casino to the area; however, in July 2016 a proposed 250-acre project by the Lawrence Downs Casino and Racing Resort was denied by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Despite the “mini” moniker these mini-casinos aren’t exactly small. Mount Airy will now be able to build a mini casino with up to 750 slot machines. For an additional $2.5 million, they can operate 30 table games with further opportunity to add 10 tables after a year.

A huge success so far for PA mini casino auctions

Thursdays auction was the third mini-casino auction since the state’s landmark gambling bill passed last October. Previous auctions were held on January 10th and again on January 24th.

With Mount Airy’s bid, the state has turned heads by raising over $111 million dollars so far as the state desperately hopes to address its budget considers. The state previously had estimated that $100 million would be generated through the mini-casino licensing process, assuming minimum bids of $7.5 million for each of the ten licenses + $2.5 million for table games were sold.

Penn National Gaming was the winner of the first auction with a $50.1 million bid to put a casino south of their existing Hollywood Casino, near the Maryland border. The location for the casino will be in Yoe, in York County.

That auction was followed up by a $40.1 million bid by Stadium LLC on January 24th. The group plans to place their mini-casino east of Pittsburgh, in the Derry Township near Greenburg, which is located in Westmoreland County. Stadium LLC is the same group behind the $600 million Phily Live! set to open in 2020.

What’s next

Pennsylvania will continue the mini-casino auction process through May 16th with the next auction held on February 21st.

As part of the state’s gambling expansion, Pennsylvania is allowing up to 10 new mini casinos to be scattered around the state. The auctions are limited to the state’s existing 12 casinos but will expand to other entities should PA casinos stop bidding.