Mount Airy to build mini-casino in Beaver County
Gamblers who live in the Sewickley area will have another place to test their luck at the slots and skills at table games if all goes as planned for a mini-casino that’s set to open in late 2019 in Beaver County.
Officials announced Aug. 6 that Mount Airy Pittsburgh would be built on a 100-acre site in Big Beaver about 35 miles north of Sewickley near the Beaver-Lawrence county line.
The council president of the borough with a population just under 2,000 called it the biggest thing to happen there since 1992, when the Beaver Valley Expressway — now Interstate 376 — opened.
Officials hope the mini-casino planned for a vacant field near I-376 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike will be a jumbo-jackpot of jobs and economic development for the area.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Big Beaver council President Jason Landsbach said.
Mount Airy Pittsburgh will be built on Route 351 — known locally as Fairlane Boulevard — in Big Beaver. It will be a satellite casino for the Monroe County-based Mount Airy Casino and Resort in the Poconos. The grand opening is expected to be in late 2019.
The casino is one of 10 mini-casinos allowed by an expansion of state gambling passed in October. Maryland-based Stadium Casino LLC plans to open a mini-casino inside the Westmoreland Mall .
A warehouse and paving company are nearby on Route 351 in Big Beaver, but this is the first major development at what has been thought to be a prime location for economic growth in the county, Landsbach said.
“We (are) very happy to see something else going in,” he said.
The residents in the area he’s talked to haven’t been opposed to the development, Landsbach said. Some people from the region who are against gambling in general have mentioned concerns that it will bring drugs, prostitution and “godless people” to the area, but that’s not how Landsbach sees it.
“I can understand people in what they might think, but I was down to one (a casino) in West Virginia, and I didn’t see anything untoward going on. I guess it’s maybe too many movies about Las Vegas in the old days,” he said. “That type of complaint, I don’t give that much credence to it, but I could be wrong.”
The same could be said for businesses that promote drinking, smoking or even gluttony, Landsbach said.
“So there you go; pick your sin,” he said.
The casino is good news for the entire region, Daniel Camp III, chair of the Beaver County Commissioners, said Monday during a brief news conference at the site. What makes the site enticing, Camp said, is its accessibility from Interstates 376 and 76 and that it can draw people from across the region.
“We’re going to see money coming to Beaver County,” Camp said.
Mount Airy bought the land from Beaver County developer Pat Nardelli. The terms of the sale were not released.
“We’re thrilled to bring our four-diamond customer service, high quality entertainment and luxurious amenities to Beaver County and the surrounding communities, while contributing a positive lasting impact on the local economy,” said Lisa DeNaples, owner and managing trustee of Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Poconos.
Mount Airy officials weren’t immediately able to comment about why the site in Beaver County was selected. Camp said he’s been in contact with casino officials since Good Friday about the possibility of a casino coming.
“It means jobs,” Camp said.
Hundreds of them, said DeNaples. Several hundred construction jobs to build the casino and “upwards of 700 jobs” to regional residents once the casino and complex are fully developed will be available.
“We envision the casino as just the start of building something truly special,” she said in a statement.
Mount Airy said its resort in the Poconos has helped to spur more than $2 billion in economic activity in eastern Pennsylvania.
Mount Airy Pittsburgh will have 750 slot machines, 30 table games, a high-limit area, restaurant and sports bar.
The company paid $21.2 million for a license to build the casino in an auction in February and had been considering several sites in Mercer, Lawrence and Beaver counties before settling on the site in Big Beaver.
Landsbach said the casino could jump start economic development.
“The point is, when there’s no economic activity, it’s hard to get a piece of it, but where money’s floating around, it’s easier,” he said. “You’ve got a chance of making some bucks because bucks are moving around.”
Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, email@example.com or via Twitter @kingofgonzo.