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More than 150 Central Pa. municipalities block mini-casinos

More than 1,000 municipalities across Pennsylvania, including 153 in the midstate, have said “no thanks” to hosting new mini-casinos authorized under a state expansion of casino-style gambling.

Gov. Tom Wolf in October signed the casino legislation to help fill Pennsylvania’s nearly $2.3 billion deficit and wrap up the 2017-18 state budget, which was four months late.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will begin auctioning off 10 mini-casino licenses to the 11 largest licensed casinos in Pennsylvania on Jan. 10. The  board gave municipalities until Dec. 31 to opt out of hosting the smaller gambling parlors, which can house 300 to 750 slot machines and up to 40 table games.

Under state law, mini-casinos cannot be built within 25 miles of an existing casino, unless an existing casino is building a satellite location.

All 60 of the municipalities in Lancaster County opted out.

Across the rest of the midstate, 27 of the 33 municipalities in Cumberland County have prohibited mini-casinos. 

In Dauphin County, 11 of 40 municipalities have opted out, while 17 of 26 municipalities in Lebanon County have sent resolutions to the state.

In York County, 38 out of 72 municipalities have opted out.

Here is the full list of local governments that have prohibited mini-casinos.

Pennsylvania has more than 2,500 municipalities. So even if most municipalities in a given area opt out, they may still end up near a mini-casino. And the law allows municipalities to opt back in one time.

The minimum bid price is $7.5 million for a mini-casino slot machine license. A separate certificate for table games can be obtained through board approval for a $2.5 million fee. 

If all the licenses are not auctioned off next week, the board will hold additional auctions over the next several months.

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