Leaders in Lawrence, Mercer counties hopeful for a casino license

NEW CASTLE, Pa. (WYTV) – Pennsylvania already has 12 casinos — and now the state has created licenses for 10 more. There are people in both Mercer and Lawrence Counties who would like it to be considered.

Lawrence County Commissioner Dan Vogler walked Thursday evening through downtown New Castle envisioning a new casino.

“It would bring jobs into the community,” he said. “It would bring tourists into the community.”

Companies that already own casinos in Pennsylvania will get the first chance to bid on the new licenses. The auction is Jan. 10.

The minimum bid for a license is $10 million for both slots and table games. The bids must also include the locations of the casinos, which can not be within 25 miles of an existing casino. If all the licenses are not sold on Jan. 10, additional auctions will be held.

Vogler plans to promote Lawrence County as a potential location for one of the new casino licenses. New Castle, it’s surrounding townships and Ellwood City are all possible sites.

“We plan next week to communicate with the 10 current license holders and advocate for our county,” Vogler said. “And if they reach out to us, we’ll gladly take them around and show them potential sites.”

The 10 new PA casinos are being called mini-casinos — meaning they can have between 300 and 750 slot machines, and no more than 30 table games in the first year.

The Rivers in Pittsburgh has 2,900 slots and 100 table games. Mountaineer has 1,500 slots and 100 tables games, while Hollywood Gaming in Austintown has 1,030 slots and no table games.

Sharon City Manager Bob Fiscus said his city council has talked about the casino option a little bit, but has not committed either way. Hermitage City Manager Gary Fiscus says they haven’t talked about it at all, but he expects to in the next few days. Some economic development people say a casino for Mercer County is seriously being considered, but no decision on a possible location has been made.

Vogler is not hung up on a location. He’s more concerned about his county.

“As a county commissioner, obviously, as long as it comes to the county, I’m happy,” he said.

Communities can opt out of of getting one of the new casinos — four in Mercer and Lawrence Counties already have.

In Mercer County, Greene Township around Jamestown and Liberty Township south of Grove City said no. In Lawrence County, Little Beaver Township in the southwest corner and Pulaski Township in the northwest corner have opted out.