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Locals hope casino is on a roll for the area | Local News

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Locals hope casino is on a roll for the area | Local News

MERCER COUNTY – Mercer County officials will know this week if the odds are still good for a new mini casino in the county.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is set to open bids Wednesday for the fifth round of 10 opportunities to buy rights to open a casino somewhere in the state.

Under the rules, a bidder doesn't have to identify that it is interested in a mini casino until the bids are turned in Wednesday morning. New bidding opportunities will come every two weeks until the 10th round is complete, which is expected to be in May.

Mercer County has been in a good position for a bid once before, only to have a glitch take it away.

On Feb. 21, it looked like a deal was in hand for the county to get a casino. The Gaming Board awarded Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem the right to open that casino, which would have been located in the county.

But later that day, the board invalidated the Sands bid of nearly $9.9 million. The sticking point was Sands wanted to build a casino within a 15-mile area that would have encroached on the territory won Feb. 7 by Mt. Airy Casino. Regulations prohibit a casino from being within a 15-mile radious of another one.

The Sands' territory would have been in a 15-mile radius around a point just off Wasser Bridge Road in Hempfield Township southeast of Greenville. Mt. Airy's territory is a 15-mile radius around a location in Hickory Township, Lawrence County.

The two circles overlap in an approximate area from the Grove City Outlet shops northwest to Mercer and including East Lackawannock Township, almost entirely in Mercer County.

Still, Randy Seitz, chief executive officer of Penn-Northwest Development Corp., likes the odds.

"When I talked to the Sands people, they told me they have every intention of rebidding and moving forward,'' Seitz said. Penn-Northwest is Mercer County's lead economic development agency.

Calls to the Sands Corp.'s main office in Las Vegas and to the company's Pennsylvania office in Bethlehem for comment were not returned.

"We're always excited about something that will have a positive impact on our community,'' said Sherris Moreira, executive director of the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce. "We want to make sure this adds to the community, and not taking something away.''

Shenango Valley Mall in Hermitage has been mentioned as a possible location.

And that would be great, said Michael Muha, an attorney who also is a Hermitage commissioner.

"But in being honest – I'm not so sure if that will happen,'' Muha said. "The reason I'm not so sure is the mall has been placed in receivership and that brings in a whole lot of different variables.''

Under a Feb. 8 ruling, a Pittsburgh federal judge found the Shenango Valley Mall’s ownership in default of a loan and allowed the lender to foreclose on the property and place it under receivership.

The Hermitage mall was placed under the receivership of Metro Commercial Management Services of Mt. Laurel, N.J. Two of the mall's anchor tenants, Sears and Macy's, closed last March with a number of other smaller stores following since then.

"The mall certainly has room for a casino, and there's lots of parking spaces there,'' Muha said. "But all of this is speculation and is conditioned on Sands being awarded the license.''

Mini-casino facilities are permitted to operate up to 300 and 750 slot machines and as many as 40 table games. Full-service casinos such as Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem can operate maximums of 5,000 slot machines and 250 table games.

Read more http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNFYt6y--ukDQ0PvKrXmQjeY0gZyPg&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&ei=FMmeWqiSO4GZhgGmjpygDA&url=http://www.sharonherald.com/news/local_news/locals-hope-casino-is-on-a-roll-for-the-area/article_df907f54-20d9-11e8-ad47-67f18f7ee6f9.html

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