PA Board Considers New Auction For Mini-Casinos
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced that it is considering whether and when to hold an “additional auction round” for one of the 10 mini-casino licenses created by the November gaming expansion round. Two of the auctions, which were eventually opened to all existing Pennsylvania land-based licensees, went without bids, meaning only five of the 10 available licenses for mini-casinos have been awarded.
Mini-casinos, officially Category 4 casinos, were created by the gaming expansion bill passed last November and signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf. Originally intended to create additional tax revenue for the state from current licensees, the law set $7.5 million as the minimum bid, authorizing a satellite facility with a maximum of 750 slot machines. For an extra $2.5 million fee, Category 4 licensees can add up to 30 table games.
While Penn National won the first bid for $50 million in a defensive move to protect its central Pennsylvania market, bids shrunk from that point, with the fifth license awarded to Penn National for $3 over the $7.5 million minimum. That auction was the first opened to operators who had already won a Category 4 license, with the pool expanded after no bids were received.
When no bids were received for a second auction, the board expanded the applicants to include the two Category 3 resort-class casinos formerly excluded from the bidding. Two weeks ago, there were no bids from the expanded field.
The gaming board’s press release last week noted that the new law allows for a second round of auctions which the board can extend to operators and other entities outside the state. According to the announcement, the board is currently considering its next move, which would involve establishing rules for a second round of auctions, which the board statement only said would be held “at a later date.”