200 municipalities opt out of Pa. gambling expansion

Lancaster and Chester Counties had the highest number of opt-outs. (AP)

Lancaster and Chester Counties had the highest number of opt-outs. (AP)

Two hundred Pennsylvania municipalities have already opted out of hosting a new miniature casino.

The option is part of a gambling expansion lawmakers passed at the end of October, which was designed to raise revenue to help fix the commonwealth’s chronically underfunded budget.

Municipalities have until January to decide whether they want to play host to a mini-casino, and more are expected to opt out this month.

Doug Harbach, communications director with the state Gaming Control Board, said the largest number of opt-outs has come from Lancaster County, where there’s been fairly strong opposition to gambling.

Chester County has also seen a lot of thumbs down.

Harbach said it’s too soon to say whether that will impact the roughly $100 million lawmakers budgeted for gambling revenue.

“This auction process is entirely new in awarding casino licenses, so seeing 200 thus far is something that we’re processing, and obviously we’re going to see more passes,” he said. “Even with this number of opt-out there certainly is a good bit of territory that these casinos could be located in.” There about 2,600 municipalities in Pennsylvania.

The board plans to hold its first auction for a mini-casino license in the beginning of January.

As part of the expansion, the 12 counties with existing casinos have also been given the option to decide not to host remote video gaming terminals in their truck stops.

So far, Washington, Monroe, and Northampton Counties have done so.

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