Ten casinos are already operating in the Keystone State. Two resort casinos are pending, and two casino licenses are currently unallocated. One of those remaining two licenses was originally awarded to Foxwoods project in Philadelphia, and eventually revoked by the Gaming Control Board. The other is earmarked for a yet-to-be-built racetrack in Lawrence County.
Both licenses are subject to possible legislative intervention and relocation, and a key Senate committee got the first look at Treasurer Rob McCord’s analysis of alternative locations at a hearing this week. “When you take a look at eastern Pennsylvania, supply and demand seem to be meeting each other… when you move to western Pennsylvania you move from maturation to potential saturation,” explained McCord, who by way of his office is a non-voting member of the Gaming Board and legal custodian of gaming funds.
McCord commissioned a study with the Innovation Group, and found that the numbers drive regulators and policymakers to look at central Pennsylvania. Ranking alternative casino locations based on the net gain to PA gaming revenues, South York tops the list with a $154-million dollar impact. “This is a net revenue number. So you might see in Philadelphia the highest gross number but then you have to ask yourself, how much of that is cannibalization of Pennsylvania facilities? You really don’t care if you’re cannibalizing out-of-state facilities,” McCord says. Reading, PA came in at number two among the ranked alternatives.
State Senator Jane Earll (R-Erie) who chairs the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee recognizes there is some legislative interest in moving either of the aforementioned licenses. “I think to have concrete information about what the potential impacts on our incumbent investments might be is helpful,” Earll said after the hearing. McCord made no recommendations, rather calling the study a tool for analysis.
The study also found that a potential casino in Youngstown, Ohio would have a significant impact on future profits from the would-be Valley View casino in Lawrence County. The Ohio project would have a near 33% impact, dropping net revenues from $122-million to $83-million under that scenario.