LAWRENCE COUNTY, Pa. (WKBN) – Lawrence County received the third of 10 mini casino licenses in Pennsylvania.
After years of trying, gambling could finally be coming to Lawrence County. The owners of the Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Pocono Mountains submitted the winning bid of $21.18 million for the license Thursday.
According to auctioneers, the casino will be built in Lawrence County. The center point of the casino license is in Hickory Township by Laurel High School, just east of New Castle. The new casino must be somewhere within a 15 mile radius of that point.
“This is a monumental day as we look to the future of the Mount Airy brand, knowing that the creation of a second casino resort will benefit Pennsylvania’s economy and communities,” said Lisa DeNaples, owner and managing trustee of Mount Airy Casino Resort. “Each day, we put our heart and soul into the guest experience at Mount Airy Casino Resort in Mount Pocono, and we will now use that passion to create a premier casino in North Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.”
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is auctioning the rights to 10 new mini-casinos.Thursday’s bid of more than $21 million means a new mini casino. They can have 750 slot machines and license holders can pay another $2.5 million to operate 30 table games.
“It is essentially the size. The number of slot machines and table games,” Dan Vogler said.
This is the third of 10 auctions for mini casinos in the state. It comes after nearly 15 years of trying to bring gambling to Lawrence County.
The exact site of the casino is still unknown. Mount Airy Casino Resort gave latitude and longitude coordinates after they won the auction. That led us to State Road, Route 388 in Lawrence County. However, this won’t be the exact location of the casino.
Despite most of that area being in Lawrence County, there is a chance the new casino could be outside the county lines. The 15 mile radius set up by the state gaming commission reaches into parts of Mercer, Beaver and Butler counties, and there has been a push to bring one of these licenses to Grove City, that is inside the 15 mile zone.
“They will now have to move forward with specifically determining where they will locate,” Vogler said.
The company also has the option to use an existing building and remodel that instead.
Reaction from the community is mixed. Many are excited about the prospect of new jobs and entertainment.
“I think it’s really cool. There’s not a whole lot of things to do in this area,” Jordan Garrett of New Wilmington said.
“I’d rather have more manufacturing jobs than service jobs, but some form of change would be an improvement,” Rady Silverman said.
“Creating jobs opportunities for an area that is a deprived area,” Courtney Lippmann of New Castle said.
But some worry gambling may bring more problems to people living in the county.
“A lot of times you go to casinos it seems like people who may not be able to afford it are spending their money in there,” Silverman said.
Smokers will also be welcome in this new casino. The way casino law is written, portions of the building will be able to have people smoke inside. Vogler thinks it may bring gamblers from Ohio to Pennsylvania.
Mount Airy now has six months to put together a proposal for a location.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.