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Md. gambling industry’s latest threat – mini-casinos in Pa.

A rendering of the proposed Hollywood Casino York in Springettsbury Township in York County, Pennsylvania. (Submitted rendering)

A rendering of the proposed Hollywood Casino York in Springettsbury Township in York County, Pennsylvania. (Submitted rendering)

As if Maryland’s casino industry didn’t face enough challenges from out-of-state competitors, it now has to brace for the development of a mini-casino in York that might prove appealing to Maryland residents along the Pennsylvania border.

The parent company of Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course expects to plunk down nearly $120 million to build a new mini-casino at the York Galleria.

Berks County-based Penn National Gaming Inc. on Wednesday officially filed its application with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for the casino, which is slated to occupy the former Sears location at the mall in Springettsbury Township.

The company’s plan calls for Hollywood Casino York to open within 12 to 18 months with about 500 slot machines and 20 table games — assuming its plan secures approvals for licensing and construction. The facility is designed to eventually house up to 750 slot machines and 40 table games.

Penn National said its $120 million investment includes $52.6 million in license fees for the slots and table games.

In addition to a gambling parlor, the facility will include a casual restaurant and sports bar, a small entertainment lounge and a grab-and-go eatery.

Mini-casinos can house 300 to 750 slot machines and up to 40 table games. The smaller gambling parlors — known as Category 4 casinos — were authorized as part of a gambling expansion bill signed into law last year by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.

Five of 10 available mini-casino licenses have been auctioned off.

The mini-casinos are further evidence of the remarkable expansion in state-sanctioned gambling, driven largely by the desire to come up with fresh sources of tax revenue for beleaguered state budgets.

The competition is particularly fierce on the East Coast. In May, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for states to allow sports betting, which previously had been limited to Nevada. New Jersey, whose case had been before the court, saw $95.6 million wagered on sports events in August, a shot in the arm for the Atlantic City casino industry, The Associated Press reported.

Other states where sports betting is currently being offered include Delaware, Mississippi, and West Virginia.

Maryland lawmakers were unable to come to an agreement about a measure to go before voters on allowing sports betting in the state. As a result, gambling business executives say, the state is likely to lose revenue as potential bettors travel to nearby states to bet on NFL games and other professional sports.

The three largest of Maryland’s six casinos can offer attractions with which the mini-casinos planned for Pennsylvania can’t compete. For instance, Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore can boast of nearby sports venues as well as a slew of restaurants developed by such celebrity chefs as Gordon Ramsay. Live Casino in Arundel County has just added the upscale Live Hotel to encourage bettors to spend a night. Or two. And the MGM National Harbor in Prince George’s County has the ability to attract big-name entertainers, such as Christina Aguilera, Sting and Roseanne Barr. (The state’s other three casinos are smaller operations in Perryville, Cumberland and Berlin.)

Nonetheless, for a bettor who lives along the Maryland and Pennsylvania border near York and just wants to place a few wagers and get an affordable bite to eat, the mini-casinos are likely to be an option.



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