Public hearing scheduled for Westmoreland County mini casino proposal |
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Rich Cholodofsky
Casino operators expect some players to migrate to online slot machines when internet gambling launches in Pennsylvania, but they won't be able to use mobile devices to wager while they are inside a casino.

County residents and others will finally have a chance to be heard about plans to open a mini casino at the Westmoreland Mall.

A public hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Dec. 5 at the Hempfield Township municipal building, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced Thursday.

Stadium Casino LLC this year purchased one of five licenses to build smaller, satellite casinos in Pennsylvania. Company officials said it plans to install 750 slot machines and 30 table games at the former Bon-Ton department store location in the mall.

Specifics about the proposal have yet to be disclosed.

A public version of the casino project application filed in Harrisburg is being vetted but will be posted online before the December public hearing, said Doug Harbach, spokesman for the gaming board.

“Our goal is to have it out there pretty soon,” Harbach said.

Stadium Casino, after winning a sealed bid in February, paid $40 million for the mini casino license. In July, it identified the the recently closed mall store as the proposed location.

The company said it expects to hire as many as 600 workers at the new casino.

Those interested in speaking at the December public hearing must pre-register with the gaming board by noon on Dec. 3 by visting the gaming board’s website and clicking on the link for the Westmoreland County Stadium Casino project.

Comments also will be accepted in writing and can be submitted via mail, email and fax, according to the board.

It could take months after the hearing before the gaming board schedules a vote to approve the project, Harbach said.

The gaming board is conducting its first public hearing for a mini casino project next month in York County. It will conduct another hearing Dec. 4 , in Beaver County for a proposal from Mt. Airy Casino to build a facility in Big Beaver Borough.

Stadium Casino, the company that purchased the license for the Westmoreland casino, has made few public comments about its proposal. Company officials did not respond to a request for comment this week.

The company is a partnership between two gaming firms, Cordish Companies and Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, which owns the Parx Casino in Bucks County.

Stadium Casino also is the developer of a yet-to-be-built $600 million casino project in Philadelphia.

Recent online reports suggested development of that project could be in jeopardy over apparent ownership issues that could result its casino licenses being sold.

State Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, said those issues are not expected to impact the Westmoreland County casino project.

“They are trying to separate, but they are moving forward in Westmoreland County,” Ward said. “We don’t know which company will operate the casino if they decide not to sell.”

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or [email protected]

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