Penn-Northwest Rolls Dice to Lure Mini-Casino

Penn-Northwest Rolls Dice to Lure Mini-Casino

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Penn-Northwest Development Corp., Sharon, Pa., will pursue a two-track strategy to land one of the mini-casinos Pennsylvania is awarding, including potentially luring one awarded for the New Castle area into Mercer County.

The opportunity to land one of the mini-casinos in Mercer County passed by Friday – at least for the time being — when no one bid on a Category 4 license at a scheduled auction.

Last month, Las Vegas Sands Corp.  bid $9.9 million for a state license to build and operate a mini-casino near Greenville, Pa. That bid was invalidated when it was determined that that license encroached on the protected area reserved for the Category 4 license won by Mount Airy #1 LLC.

According to Randy Seitz, Penn-Northwest president and CEO, Las Vegas Sands is selling its Bethlehem, Pa. casino. “So because of the sale they’re no longer in a position where they could bid on the mini-casino licenses,” he said.

According to the Associated Press, Las Vegas Sands is selling Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem to an American Indian tribe in Alabama. It opened in 2009 on the site of Bethlehem Steel’s former headquarters.

A total of 10 mini-casino licenses will be auctioned by the commonwealth, including the four already awarded.

In addition to pushing for sites such as the Shenango Valley Mall for one of the licenses to be awarded, Penn Northwest will advocate for Mercer County sites that would fall within the protected area for the license awarded to Mount Airy, Seitz said.

So far, Mount Airy has not announced where it intends to site its mini-casino, said Alex McCoy, CEO of the New Castle Area Chamber of Commerce. “At this point, it’s still being played close to the vest,” he told The Business Journal.

As of this posting, Mount Airy representatives had not responded to a request for comment.

“If you look at the 15-mile protected radius they [Mount Airy #1 LLC]  have chosen, that actually puts them into Springfield Township in Mercer County,” Seitz said.

A Mercer County site would put the mini-casino visible from Exit 113 of Interstate 79, which 23,000 vehicles pass each day, Seitz said. Further up the road is an Interstate 80 exit passed by more than 33,000 vehicles pass daily.

“The sites that are available put them adjacent to a very active outlet mall that has more than six million visitors,” he continued. Also, the site surrounding the [Grove City] outlet mall is a Tax Increment Financing district, which would provide financing for necessary public infrastructure.

“So all of these things combined would make it an ideal location for Mount Airy,” Seitz remarked.

The next license auction is set for March 21.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.