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.

Mt. Airy Submits Application for Beaver County Mini-Casino

Last Friday, officials from the Monroe County-based Mount Airy Casino Resorts submitted a mini-casino license application to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Mount Airy’s plans will turn the over 100 acres of barren land in Big Beaver into a multimillion-dollar mini-casino and entertainment complex.

According to the Times Online, a local news outlet, Mount Airy plans to launch its mini-casino in Beaver County in late 2019, a facility that is anticipated to feature at least 30 table games and 750 slot machines. The plans officially kicked off last August when the casino bought 100 acres of barren land just off Interstate 376 where the mini-casino is set to be constructed, if the gaming control board approves their license application, that is. By submitting the official application for the license, the developers confirmed that they have indeed begun the process for final approval before construction begins. The application also included sports betting and online gambling.

While commenting on the issue, Mount Airy Pittsburgh’s vice president of marketing and gaming operations, Vincent Jordan said that he and other casino officials are excited about the license applications as it marked the beginning of the formal process that is required for them to establish a gambling business in Big Beaver County as early as next year.

“While the due diligence process is underway, we’re enthusiastic about working with the community on job training and other partnerships,” he elaborated. “We are looking forward to communicating our plans and are appreciative of all the help and collaboration we have received from Beaver County officials.”

Mount Airy’s Operations in the Commonwealth

Earlier this year, Mt. airy won a mini-casino license after making a $21,888,888.88 bid – the terms for this license also stipulated that the casino could include up to 750 slot machines and 30 table games. For this project, the casino has even already begun discussions with workforce development and educational partners, a move that has earned the operator a lot of praise form the county board of commissioners who have been keeping a watchful eye on the developments.

According to Daniel Camp, the chairman of the country commissioners, the move is an indication of Mount Airy’s commitment and dedication to the project.

“It’s great to see another organization and business come into Beaver County who is willing to and will be a great neighbor to our community,” Mr. Camp pointed out. “I think them being here this early prior to breaking ground is a sign that shows the commitment to the community and the project.”

The PGCB to Review the Application

The mini-casino application that was submitted on Friday required Mount Airy to conduct a traffic study, local impact report as well as other forms of research, which is typical of the application process. However, according to the gaming control board’s spokesperson, it will be a few weeks before they release the application to the public for review. In the meantime, the PGCB staff will be reviewing the application for completeness while at the same time redacting any confidential information that it may include.

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