Mini casino slated to open in Westmoreland Mall

Bon-Ton filed for bankruptcy in February, forcing 42 of its stores to close. This included eight stores in Pennsylvania. Photo by H.Carnahan/Setonian.

A casino is expected to be built inside the space where Bon-Ton formerly resided in Westmoreland Mall along Route 30. The department store closed in early August due to a national liquidation of the retail chain. Stadium Casino, LLC paid $40.1 million for a casino license from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in January of 2018.

“That is all we know at this point and can ‘announce’ in public in regards to the project,” said Doug Harbach, director of communications for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. “What I can tell you is what the process will be now that we have the petition. We will make sure we have all of the pertinent information that we need to make a licensing decision and initiate an investigation.”

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will start the process of completing a background check on the applicant and the project. Once that’s complete, the next step would be to hold a public hearing in Hempfield Township to collect additional evidence from “citizens, government officials and any organizations about the project and how they might negatively or positively impact them.” A licensing decision will then be made for the proposal.

“These are a new category casino, why they call them mini casinos, where in this case, they say ‘retro-fitting’ into an existing facility, so I think because of this being a new type of category, it’s hard to really say how long that would take,” Harbach said. “Having said that, since the applicants for these mini casinos are the owners of a larger casino and already have been vetted, it would be likely to say that the background investigation process will not be as lengthy as it would have been if they were a newbie into the Pennsylvania casino market.”

Casino licenses fall into two categories—category one, which is a casino and a racetrack, and category two, which is a stand-alone casino. No casino in Pennsylvania has more than 3,000 slot machines, with an average of about 2,500. Mini casinos have a maximum of 750 slots and 40 tables.

“It’s a good location, not only with a strong population base, but also that it has a lot of easy access roadways with Route 30 and Route 22,” Harbach said. “If you look around the commonwealth, that has been why the casinos in Pennsylvania have been successful, because our market is more of a convenience market rather than a destination market.”

The property that the casino will be built on is approximately 100,000 square feet and is expected to include slot machines and table games. The casino is “projected to create more than 600 jobs and generate millions of dollars annually to the local community,” according to a press release from Stadium Casino.

No other information has been released on the cost of the project.

Published By: Stephen Dumnich

Update: This article has been updated for clarification on the amount of slot machines in casinos and mini casinos in Pennsylvania.

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