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Springettsbury Township could be frontrunner for Penn National mini-casino

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The odds of Springettsbury Township landing a new mini-casino have suddenly improved.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board today confirmed it has received a resolution from the township reversing its previous decision to opt out of hosting one of 10 new mini-casinos allowed under an expansion of casino-style gambling in Pennsylvania. The township's board of supervisors passed the new resolution Thursday.

Springettsbury Township is the first municipality in York County to officially opt back in, the board said, following Penn National Gaming's winning bid last month to build a new gambling parlor in the county. Springettsbury was one of 38 municipalities in the county, and one of hundreds around the state, to initially decline the opportunity at the end of last year.

The newly authorized parlors, called Category 4 casinos, can house 300 to 750 slot machines and up to 40 table games.

Penn National bid $50.1 million to beat out three other bidders for the license. However, the Berks County-based casino operator is suing to block the construction of the smaller casinos because it believes that under the state law allowing them, operations at Penn National's Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course will suffer more than they will at other casinos in Pennsylvania. Gov. Tom Wolf is defending the new law and has asked the courts to throw out Penn National's suit.

Hedging its bets, Penn National is focusing on securing a site to build a mini-casino in Central Pennsylvania. There is no guarantee the project will end up in Springettsbury Township.

Penn National spokesman Eric Schippers said Springettsbury is one of several area his company is exploring in York County. He declined to name the other municipalities or the types of sites being considered.

"We have not made any final decisions," he said. "We really don't want to provide our playbook to our competitors given there are still seven licenses left and they may be keying in on our ultimate location."

Springettsbury Township Manager Ben Marchant said there have been preliminary discussions with Penn National. "We know we're not the only township they are considering," he said.

But he believes his township is well positioned for a casino because it affords easy access to Interstate 83 and Route 30, both of which run through the municipality.

The township also houses substantial retail outlets, including the York Galleria mall. Marchant said the Galleria has been one area of interest for Penn National.

He also said he would love to see redevelopment of the now vacant Kmart store off the Mt. Rose exit of I-83. That area is undergoing significant highway improvements, which could open up new development opportunities and business growth.

In describing their decision to accept a potential mini casino, township officials cited the economic benefits, including new tax revenue from gambling, according to a story in the York Dispatch.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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