Editorial: The potential economic impact of Westmoreland Mall’s mini casino
What would you do with $120 million?
That’s a question for local lawmakers now that a mini casino will occupy the soon-to-be-vacated Bon-Ton site at Westmoreland Mall.
Stadium Casino LLC, a Maryland-based company that purchased a $40.1 million mini-casino license, will open a casino housing 750 slot machines and 30 table games. State Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, told the Tribune-Review she expects the casino to generate $120 million in economic impact for Westmoreland County. She did not elaborate on a timeframe to achieve that revenue.
Nonetheless, we applaud the addition of the casino at the mall. It fills a need, occupying a large space by an anchor tenant that otherwise likely would have been left vacant. It also seemingly solidifies the future of a mall that has two other anchor tenants — J.C. Penney and Sears — that have struggled financially.
We can argue the morality of banking on the gambling industry to prop up state coffers. But there’s no shame in Hempfield and other municipalities jockeying to be the home of the 10 mini casinos being licensed throughout the state.
Under state law, Hempfield will receive 2 percent of the casino’s revenue from slot machines and
1 percent from table games. Westmoreland County will receive the same amount.
That will pay for plenty of projects.
The full ramifications of the casino won’t be realized for some time. It seems a long shot that its mere presence will suddenly generate an influx of shops, restaurants and other businesses nearby. After all, this casino is going in a mall with myriad restaurants already nearby.
But we’re pleased that Westmoreland County is in the game. And we’ll be eagerly watching to see how the gambling funds are spent to benefit the public.
One topic that’s sure to be raised yet again: Now that the township will have some additional revenue, will it opt to establish its own police department?