Council not gambling with mini-casino legislation

Amy Cherry
Staff Writer

St. Marys is joining a long list of municipalities across the state saying no to mini-casinos.
Pennsylvania Legislative Act 42 of 2017 authorizes a municipality to prohibit, or opt out, of having a casino located within its boundaries.
During a recent meeting, St. Marys City Council approved a resolution prohibiting the location of a category four licensed facility within the city. Councilman Greg Gebauer cast the only nay vote on the issue.
The resolution, drafted by solicitor Tom Wagner, states council is concerned with the financial and social impacts of the establishment of a mini-casino within the city and requires more time to responsibly investigate the issues.
A mini-casino could operate between 300-750 slot machines and up to 50 table games.
Municipalities choosing to opt-out must enact a resolution between Oct. 31 and before Dec. 31 at a duly-advertised public meeting. They must submit their resolution to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
A municipality which opts out is not precluded from opting back in at a later date. They may do this by submitting a new resolution to the gaming board. However, if a municipality chooses to allow a casino they cannot change their mind and prohibit one in the future.
"It's a now or never proposition," Wagner said.
Statewide supporters claim the mini-casinos would bring in tourism dollars, create jobs, investment in construction and possible spinoff development.
Others debate at what price would this come at, emphasizing the need for additional infrastructure and resources.
The topic spurred discussion among council members.