NEW CASTLE, Pa. (WKBN) — A Lawrence County racino that has been in the works for nearly a decade is getting closer to reality.
On Thursday, casino officials heard the public’s opinion about the project during a special hearing. The Mahoning Township Community Center was packed to capacity.
The seven members of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board got a chance to hear whether the community is for or against a race track and casino planned for Mahoning Township on U.S. Route 422. The public’s input will help the board decide if they want to approve the facility’s gaming license.
“Folks are going to be testifying. The vast majority will be testifying in support of this much-needed project,” said Lawrence County Commissioner Chairman Dan Vogler. “Our hope is that they ultimately will approve the application.”
Penn National Gaming, owners of the Austintown racino, will have 33 percent ownership. Endeka Entertainment will own the other two-thirds. The new owners stepped in after the prior owner was unable to move forward with the project, which is expected to bring 600 permanent jobs to the area.
“We’ve been a long time seeing this project come. The area does need something and we’re thankful now that it could be on the right path,” said New Castle resident Larry Johnson.
“There’s a lot of pros and cons. If you weigh the pros against the cons, the race track should come here. There’s too many people that need work,” said Darrell Bario of New Castle.
The racino also will bring 1,000 construction jobs.
“The economic impact will be tremendous. The Lawrence County Building Trades have 650 family members that will be part of all this construction,” said Frank Telesz of the trade council.
The next step will be another hearing in Harrisburg, where the owners will lay out their financial plan to help prove they have the financial stability to move the project forward.