NEW CASTLE (KDKA/AP) – The owners of the Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Pocono Mountains have won the rights to build a mini-casino in Lawrence County, on the Ohio border.
They submitted a winning bid Thursday of $21.2 million.
KDKA’s David Highfield Reports:
While exact location hasn’t been made public or perhaps even decided on yet, it looks like it will be based somewhere within 15 miles of New Castle.
County officials hope the announcement means more jobs, visitors, and related businesses, like hotels and restaurants to the area.
“Lawrence County is surrounded by five counties. Three in Pennsylvania – Mercer, Butler, Beaver – and two in Ohio – Mahoning and Trumbull. When you take those five counties’ populations and add Lawrence’s, you’ve got a million people,” said Lawrence County Commissioner Dan Vogler.
He’s points to the development around the Meadows Casino in Washington County as a positive.
“I’m hoping we can see a replication of what we’re seeing in Washington County with the Meadows. There’s been a lot of growth around the Meadows,” he said.
But while some residents are excited about the announcement, others think it’s a bad idea to bring a casino to town.
“I think it’ll be a good thing. It’ll bring some jobs in, get some money into the Lawrence County area,” said Joe Miller, of Ellwood City.
“What I’d be worried about is the type of people coming around, maybe,” said South New Castle resident Mark Prococio.
The bid was the best of three offers, for the third mini-casino auction to date.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is auctioning the rights to 10 new mini-casinos. They can have 750 slot machines and license holders can pay another $2.5 million to operate 30 table games.
The first two licenses raised $90 million for a state government scrounging for cash, one for a casino in south-central Pennsylvania’s York County and another for a casino in Westmoreland County, outside Pittsburgh.
Bids are limited to the state’s licensed casino owners, for now.
Mount Airy has until Monday to pay up on the bid. Not clear when the slots could actually start paying out.
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