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No bids at casino auction | News

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No bids at casino auction | News

HARRISBURG — The seventh round of casino license auctions passed uneventfully Wednesday morning after no bids were presented to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

After Wednesday’s auction, Executive Director Kevin O’Toole with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said the board would consider how to move forward with any “potential future auctions” for mini-casino locations. Based on the most recent auction, the next step for the control board seems hard to predict, said Randy Seitz, chief executive of the development agency Penn-Northwest Development Corp.

“If there continues to be no bid, I’d imagine they’ll have to come up with another strategy or consider it over with,” Seitz said. “The board’s goal was to raise $100 million, and they’ve done that already.”

At this point in the auctions, Peggy Mazyck of the Mercer County Tourism and Visitors Bureau said the lack of bids could indicate that the state’s casino market is saturated.

After the initial round of bidding ended with six licenses left, the board opened up the auctions to any casino owners who previously bid successfully. With only one bid above the bare minimum and five licenses remaining after two auctions in the subsequent round of bidding, Mazyck said the board may consider “additional options” such as opening up the bidding to companies from outside Pennsylvania.

“When you don’t have any bids, you have to stand back and take a look at them and see where you want to go,” Mazyck said.

To submit a bid for a mini-casino license, casino owners have been required to place bids of at least $7.5 million and provide a set of coordinates that will serve as the center of a 15-mile territory where the casino will be placed.

The first casino license was awarded Jan. 10 for a bid of $50.1 million to Hollywood Casino in Yoe, York County.

Two weeks later, the second license was awarded for a bid of $40.1 million to Stadium LLC for Derry Township, Westmoreland County. Mount Airy Casino won the rights Feb. 8 to a casino near Hickory Township, Lawrence County, with a bid of $21.1 million.

Parx Casino won the fourth license with a bid of $8.1 million for a license near South Newton Township, Cumberland County. The fifth and most recent license was awarded for $7.5 million to Hollywood Casino for West Cocalico, Lancaster County.

Once a winning bid has been approved by the control board, the companies must announce within six months exactly where the casino will be built. Mount Airy could locate its casino in Lawrence County or southern Mercer County, including Springfield Township, which Mazyck said she thinks has a good chance of selection.

“They have six months from the time of the winning bid, but my guess is they’ll make an announcement much sooner than that,” Mazyck said.

If the company selects a site in Springfield Township, Seitz said the potential casino’s location to the nearby Grove City Premium Outlets could lead to development of hotel, entertainment or retail opportunities.

“We contend that this particular Mercer County site, in our humble opinion, is ideal because it comes with 6 million visitors a year,” Seitz said. “A casino would add another opportunity for those visitors to spend some time in Mercer County to shop.”

However, Seitz said there’s still a chance a bid may be submitted for a casino somewhere in Mercer County. But even if no casino comes, there are still opportunities to develop Mercer County and turn the area into an all-season destination, Seitz said.

“We could go after a water park or a trampoline park or any variation thereof,” Seitz said.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s next meeting will be 10 a.m. May 2 and can be viewed live on the board’s YouTube channel.

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