During 2018, the PA mini casinos auctions became a resounding success with five casinos bidding a total of $127 million over the course of five auctions.
PA regulators set the maximum mini-casino locations at ten. In 2018, that number maxed out at five before casinos stopped bidding the $7.5 million minimum for the rights to casino location.
PGCB tries again
Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board tried again with all Pennsylvania casinos eligible to place bids, regardless of whether a casino had received a mini-casino license or not.
Unfortunately for the state, there were again no bids, which effectively puts an end to adding more mini-casinos to the state.
“The idea was sort of that it was worth it to see if there was a renewed interest…If they don’t sell this time, this book will close.”
No additional auctions for mini-casinos will be held unless there are changes to PA law.
What are PA mini-casinos
As the name would suggest, the new mini-casinos are smaller than their resort-casino counterparts. Casinos are limited to 750 slot machines and up to 40 table games, which can be eventually increased to 50.
To avoid significant competition, mini-casinos are required to be located at least 40 miles from an existing casino, which limited the locations of additional casinos in metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Instead mini casino locations focused on more strategic areas where markets were not served and to protect isolated casinos. Mini casinos sites have ranged from Southern Pennsylvania (South Newton and Yoe), north and northeast of Pittsburgh (New Castle and Derry) and one outside of Philadelphia in West Cocalico.
Mini casinos from the operators of the Hollywood Casino, Stadium Casino LLC, Mount Airy and the Parx Casino are in various stages of the mini-casino process. Two casinos have been approved and awarded licenses, Stadium Casino LLC for a mini-casino in Westmoreland County and Penn National Gaming for a mini-casino in Berks County. The first mini-casinos are expected to begin offering games to players in late 2020.