Pennsylvania statewide gambling expansion plans have been in the process of getting enforced in different capacities across the state. However, not many people have grasped the monumental implications of these laws and how they would affect the communities. However, the plans are slowly beginning to catch the attention of a number of stakeholders with the most recent case being the Penn National Gaming Inc.’s plans to build one of the so-called satellite casinos in Berks County, which happens to border the Amish Country.
The casino operator which currently owns and operates Hollywood Casino, one of the leading land-based gambling operations in the state, set its sights on the area and proposed the establishment of a gaming hall at a Pennsylvania Turnpike exit just outside Chester County. The main attraction was that the location was strategic enough and would attract many gamblers from the growing western suburbs in Philadelphia.
Naturally, Penn National Gaming was not the only one looking to benefit from the establishment of the satellite casino – Caernarvon Township, which comprises of Morgantown, saw the mini casino as an opportunity to capture tax benefits for its residents instead of letting the host-community tax benefits go to a different municipality with a mini-casino.
According to most of the proponents of the Penn National mini casino, the decision that was made by Caernarvon officials was a defensive move that primarily sought to protect the area from taking up all the problems that would come with the establishment of a mini-casino in the neighboring New Morgan. By allowing the establishment of the mini casino in the township Caernarvon is set to receive $1.6 million in tax revenue every year – this would be equivalent to about 62 percent of its current $2.6 million budget.
Caernarvon Township approved a zoning change two years ago, a move that allowed casinos in a commercial zone. A year later, Penn National announced its plans to establish a mini casino in the area. However, it was not until that March 4 public hearing in Caernarvon that opposition gained momentum. Since then tons of anti-casino signs have spread across the township with the opponents of the mini-casino plans noting that they have no interest in transforming Morgantown into a gaming town.
Some of the speakers at the public hearing reserved some the most critical criticisms at the township supervisors responsible for the decision. According to these opponents, the supervisors should have conducted a public referendum on the proposals. However, all of the discontent with the elected officials is yet to translate into any form of backlash.