In Pennsylvania, the Gaming Control Board has been hosting auctions to receive bids on satellite casino licensing. Late last year, the state passed a gaming package into law which would allow for gambling expansions in several areas, including the creation of satellite casinos. In January, two auctions were held with Penn National Gaming and Stadium Casino being the top bidders and obtaining licensing. The first auction in February resulted in Mount Airy Casino Resort earning the rights to create a mini casino of their own.
The auction took place today and saw Mount Airy Casino Resort submit the highest bid of $21.9 million. The casino operator plans on creating a satellite gaming venue in Lawrence County, which is near the border of Ohio.
The bid of just over $21 million was much less than the bids made by Penn National and Stadium Casino in the two previous auctions. The first auction was won by Penn National Gaming for an amount of $50.1 million. Stadium Casino secured the second license during auction for $40.1 million.
Mount Airy Casino submitted the best of three offers, so there is still interest among operators to be involved with the smaller gaming revenues. The mini-casinos can house 750 slot machines as well as 30 table games. To be able to operate table gaming, the license holder must pay an additional $2.5 million.
For now, bidding is still limited to licensed casino owners of Pennsylvania. A second auction will take place this month with two more in March, April and May. Once the opportunity for licensed casinos to obtain satellite licensing is over, the process should open up to outside entities.
It will be interesting to watch the outcome of the auctions over the next few months to see how bidding continues. Since the first auction, the bids have dropped significantly, especially with this third round of license bidding. We shall see if existing casinos continue to show interest in opening smaller venues and if so, how much they are willing to spend to obtain licensing.