An artist’s rendering of the proposed Morgantown, Pennsylvania mini-casino from Penn National Gaming. The PGCB may approve the project at the board’s June 12 meeting. (Image: Penn National Gaming)
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) could give the go ahead for the $111 million project at its Wednesday, June 12 meeting in Harrisburg.
Penn National is expected to make a presentation at the meeting. Residents of communities around Morgantown are able to attend the proceedings, but won’t be permitted to comment on the proposed casino.
Penn National announced plans for the Hollywood Casino last October. Earlier this year, the Caernarvon Township Board of Supervisors unanimously voted in favor of moving forward with the gaming venue. The 36-acre property will be located in southern Berks County where Pennsylvania Turnpike intersects with Interstate 176.
A hearing held in Caernarvon Township earlier this year drew more than 250 attendees, many of whom voiced opposition to the Hollywood Casino.
Jobs and Economic Boost
While some residents remain opposed to the project, local leaders believe the economic benefits of the proposed Hollywood Casino are too good to pass up.
Jeff Morris, vice president of public affairs & government relations at PNG, told Casino.org earlier this year that construction of the gaming venue would create 275 jobs, with another 250 permanent jobs added once the property opens to patrons. By some estimates, the casino could add $93.4 million to the local economy.
Critics assert the location is poor for a casino because the area is home to some Amish communities and that a gaming venue there could lead to increased crime. They also argue that tourists passing through the area that would typically stop in Amish areas or other rural attractions will instead be lured to the casino, potentially sapping revenue from smaller local businesses.
Penn’s Established Presence in Home State
Pennsylvania-based Penn National operates casinos in the Midwest, the Northeast and the South as well as the M Resort and the Tropicana in Las Vegas. In its home state, the company runs the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville and the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in North Strabane Township.
The proposed Hollywood Casino will be located just 15 miles from Reading, a city of about 90,000 residents, and less than 50 miles from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest metropolitan area and home to nearly 1.6 million people. The property would also be just 12 miles from Penn National’s corporate headquarters in Wyomissing.
The company previously floated a similar idea for a property to be located near Pennsylvania’s Lancaster and York markets. Earlier this year, Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment unveiled plans for a mini-casino to be located near the Cumberland County/Franklin County line.
Penn National’s Hollywood Casino Morgantown is expected to be home to 750 slot machines, 30 table games and a sports wagering area. The Keystone State moved quickly to embrace legalized sports betting, including daily fantasy sports. Mobile sports betting is expected to go live in Pennsylvania next month and several other brick-and-mortar casinos are pushing to get licenses to take bets on sports.