Pennsylvania’s sweeping gambling expansion rolls on

The expansion includes five new mini-casinos, online betting, gambling at truck stops and airports, and more. (AP)

The expansion includes five new mini-casinos, online betting, gambling at truck stops and airports, and more. (AP)

The state Gaming Control Board says development of mini-casinos, online gambling, and a slew of other changes are progressing smoothly now that a federal lawsuit challenging the gambling expansion has been dropped.

Casino operator Penn National launched a federal lawsuit early this year, after arguing that legalizing miniature casinos would jeopardize their Hollywood Casino in Dauphin County.

But they halted it this month, saying they’d rather focus on developing their own two mini-casino sites — one between Lancaster and Reading, and the other by York.

“While we continue to believe in the merits of our arguments, we have chosen to focus entirely on our development efforts for our two new casinos, rather than pursue what is likely to be a lengthy and costly legal battle,” a spokesman said.

Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Spokesman Doug Harbach said the lawsuit had been the biggest obstacle to a sweeping gaming expansion–though that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily smooth sailing from here.

“These are very busy times for the Gaming Control Board,” he said. “We have six expansion initiatives that we’re part of…There’s never been a jurisdiction in the United States that had to get that many types of gaming up and running in a very brief period of time.”

Simultaneously with handling and reviewing mini-casino proposals, the state’s collecting applications for internet gaming licenses.

Nine of the commonwealth’s 13 casino operators will pay $10 million for online poker, slot machines, and table games. The remaining four will have the option to pay more for those features.

And, Harbach noted, that’s not all that’s in the works.

“Once we get the iGaming up, of course then we’ll start to look at the airport gaming,” he said. “We’ve got the video gaming terminals at the truck stops…Course we began to do some regulation on fantasy sports and have collected taxes on that for a couple months. So, all those things.”

Harbach said the gaming control board is anticipating this year to bring in a lot of revenue for the state — though most of it will be in one-time fees associated with the expansion.

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