Keystone State Marks March Gambling Awareness Month

Jennifer Smith, the Keystone State’s Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Secretary has today officially kick-started the activities that mark Mars as the state’s Gambling Awareness Month. While inaugurating the event, the secretary said that the goal of the initiative is to bring various stakeholders in the gaming sector together in a bid to promote awareness with regards to problem gambling which is starting to become more prevalent as the gaming industry continues to grow. Jennifer Smith further pointed out it would be a great opportunity to highlight some of the resources that would be required for the promotion of responsible gambling among individuals.

She went on to urge individuals to keep a watchful eye over their family and friends so that they can better recognize when a recreational hobby such as sports betting or online poker evolves into a more serious problem. This way necessary interventions can be introduced earlier and the individuals can receive the treatment and assistance they need before the problem becomes unmanageable or results in irreversible harm.

This March will be the 15th anniversary of the National Gambling Awareness Month as recognized by the National Council on Problem Gambling. The theme for this year is “Awareness + Action” which reflects on the need for a more proactive approach in as far as the issue of problem gambling is concerned. The campaign’s mandate is to not only raise public awareness on the issue of problem gambling but to also push for more treatment and recovery services for victims.

In Pennsylvania, the initiative has received a significant push forward through a partnership of sorts between the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania who are jointly funding and operating the Pennsylvania Problem Gambling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426- 2537) which is available 24/7 every day of the year.

New Jersey Rolls Out Awareness Efforts as Well

In similar news, the lottery New Jersey has also recently revamped its efforts to promote awareness on problem gambling by collaborating with the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey. Just like in Pennsylvania, the state also has a dedicated call line available to people who are victims or may be at risk of gambling-related harm in the state.

Fortunately, the legalization of sports betting in the state is having a positive effect on awareness efforts. This is because, in the past, sports gamblers were reluctant to seek help since they were playing at illegal or underground bookmakers which is no longer the case as there are fully legal and regulated sportsbooks they can play at. In case they develop any issues related to gambling, they no longer have to worry about being nabbed for participating in illegal gambling activities.

Penn National Proposes $111 Million Casino for Berks County

Penn National Gaming Inc. has been very busy in the past couple of months inking partnerships and filing license applications in a bid to extend its services far beyond what it is currently able to offer. The operator is already quite a big deal especially in Pennsylvania where the gambling market has just been rejuvenated thanks to the entry of new gambling-friendly laws. For instance, just last week, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved a two-day testing period for sports betting at Hollywood Casino in Penn National Race Course, Penn National Gaming Inc.’s very gem in the Keystone State.

The testing period which was managed by William Hill US, which is arguably the largest sports betting operator in the US, went quite well and the state regulator concluded by giving Hollywood Casino the go-ahead to proceed with the official launch of its sportsbook.

Barely a week after the debut of its sports betting operation in the Commonwealth, Penn National has made yet another move that is aimed at solidifying its already strong grasp of the state’s gambling market. This development comes through the casino’s proposal to build its “Hollywood Casino Morgantown” in Caernarvon Township, Berks County.

The Details

On October 31, the operator filed an application with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for Hollywood Casino Morgantown, which is to be its second mini-casino or satellite gaming facility. This particular application, according to the spokesman of the gaming control board is still under review and the process will move forward ones it is ascertained to be complete.

In its latest proposal, Penn National Gaming hopes to get approved to build a $111 million property on a 36-acre site. If this does go through, the operation would bring over 500 jobs to the area particularly to individuals who will be attending to the 750 slots machines, 30 table games, an entertainment lounge, a food court, and the restaurant that it will be hosting.

The proposal suggests that other than the 250 new local jobs and the 275 construction jobs that the operation will offer, the area local authorities will have something to gain as well – the township will be receiving two percent gross tax revenue on the mini casino’s slots machines and one percent of the revenue that Penn National gaming will be accruing from the area.

As it stands, it could be several weeks before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board completes its review of Penn National’s satellite casino proposal. Even before the proposal is posted on the state regulator’s report, it a local impact report would have to be filed – the board will be conducting a discrete background check through the Bureau of investigations and enforcement. In addition to this, the would need to be a public hearing in the township so as to allow the residents to express their thoughts on the satellite casino project.

New Mini-Casino Set to Open at Westmoreland Mall

According to a recent report by the Tribune-Review, a small-scale casino is expected to replace the closing Bon-Ton store at the Westmoreland Mall. The mini-casino which will feature 750 slot machines and 30 table games was confirmed to be a solid proposal after State Senator Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, said that she had been briefed by Stadium Casino LLC officials about a January purchase of a mini-casino license worth $40.1 million.

While the casino operator’s officials were not available to offer any comments on the issue, it was reported that the company had until today to file paperwork declaring its plans for the mini-casino. In fact, Sen. Ward confirmed that she was notified that a formal application would be filed with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on Wednesday. She further pointed out that the application would detail the plans for the mini-casino which she said is expected to bring in up to $120 million in revenue for Westmoreland County.

Reportedly, the new mini-casino will employ 440 full-time casino workers which will bring the total number of staff in the operation to 600. Stadium Casino LLC estimates that the renovation phase will contribute to 150 construction jobs with another 600 jobs being created indirectly as the casino continues to develop.

Lawmakers and Residents Support the Initiative

The county’s residents and lawmakers have expressed a lot of excitement for the new casino venture which they believe will revitalize the county’s economy and offer the gamblers a great way to pass time.

“We look forward to working with the Gaming Control Board, Hempfield Township and Westmoreland County in creating an exciting new destination in Westmoreland County. The property is ideally situated in the region, with excellent infrastructure and road networks in place,” said Joe Weinberg, one of the partners in the Stadium Casino group. “The synergy of this new gaming and entertainment facility with the existing retail and dining amenities in the property and surrounding area will be tremendous.”

Stadium Casino is an operation spawned from the partnership between Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment and Cordish Companies – the former also happens to be the operator of the Buck County-based Parx Casino. The joint company has been developing a number of large-scale casinos and retail projects including a $600 million project in Philadelphia which is expected to go live in 2020.

“The addition of a casino to Westmoreland Mall is the ultimate combination of entertainment, dining, and experience,” said Stephen Lebovitz, the chief executive officer of Tennessee-based CBL properties. “This combination of gaming and new dining venues, which is the first in the CBL portfolio, will draw new traffic to Westmoreland Mall from across the region, positioning the property for long-term growth and success.”

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