Gaming Control Board Receives One New Application For A Category 3 Resort Slots License
HARRISBURG: The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board today announced that one application was filed to meet the Tuesday deadline for a special 90 day period established to uncover additional interest for the remaining Category 3 slots license for an established hotel resort.
Wyo Gaming, L.P. filed the application for a proposed slots-only casino at the Crowne Plaza Reading Hotel located at 1741 Papermill Road in Wyomissing, Berks County.
According to Susan Hensel, Director of the Bureau of Licensing, Gaming Control Board staff will now conduct a preliminary review of the Wyo Gaming application to determine if it includes the applicable forms along with the additional information and documentation required by the Gaming Act or Board’s regulations. In addition, all required fees and a bond or letter of credit is required to be included with the application.
“If an application submission fails to include one or more of these preliminary items, the applicant will be notified that the application has not been accepted for filing and will be given an opportunity to cure the deficiencies,” Hensel says. “If the applicant fails to cure the deficiencies in the time period provided, the submission will be returned to the applicant.”
Hensel adds that if the application is accepted for filing, the Bureau of Licensing conducts a more detailed completeness review of the application package.
“The completeness review is designed to ensure that every question in each application is answered and that all required information and documentation is provided,” she says.
After this more detailed review, the Bureau of Licensing would notify the applicant of any deficiencies and once again provide the applicant an opportunity to cure the deficiencies.
This process is ongoing, and not limited in any time frame, until all required information and documentation is obtained by the Bureau of Licensing. Once an application is determined to be complete, the Bureau of Licensing transmits the application to the Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement for investigation.
In addition, Hensel concludes that a determination must also be made on the applicant’s eligibility for a Category 3 license. Under the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act, two Category 3 licenses for a casino with a maximum of 500 slot machines could be awarded by the Board to well-established resort hotels in order to create an additional patron amenity in each. In order to be eligible, the resort hotel must have no fewer than 275 guest rooms under common ownership, be more than 15 linear miles from any other Pennsylvania-licensed slot machine casino, and already offer substantial year-round recreational guest amenities on their premises.
In addition, the Act and accompanying regulations established by the Board, restrict who can enter the gaming area of a Category 3 casino. Those permitted to utilize the gaming facility include registered overnight guests, and patrons utilizing one or more of the resort-offered amenities including individuals holding a Board-approved and valid seasonal or year-round membership to use those amenities.
The Board reopened the application process on April 8, 2009 on the same day it awarded one of the two available Category 3 licenses to Valley Forge Convention Center Partners, L.P. The Board did so in an effort to see if other qualified resorts would be interested in the license and could provide the Commonwealth with a better overall project with firm financial commitments than the lone remaining applicant Bushkill Group, Inc., operators of the Fernwood Hotel & Resort in the Poconos.
In addition, the Board must determine the overall suitability of the Fernwood application for the remaining Category 3 license in light of a number of factors, including that Fernwood does not have committed financing for the project at this time. There is no time limit for the Board to examine the issues and make a decision.
Thus far, 11 other slot machine licenses have been awarded along with Valley Forge, with eight now operational. Those facilities, six at horse racing facilities (Category 1 licenses) and five stand alone casinos (Category 2 licenses) can operate a maximum of 5,000 slot machines. The next planned opening of a Category 2 casino will occur in early August in Pittsburgh. The $800 million Rivers Casino will operate 3,000 slot machines and employ more than 1,000 persons.
The Category 3 Valley Forge resort casino has yet to set an opening date pending the outcome of an appeal of the Board’s licensing decision by Category 1 slot operator Philadelphia Park Casino in Bensalem.
Since the opening of the first casino in November 2006 and through the recently completed 2008/2009 state fiscal year, legalized slot gaming has returned over $2.6 billion in tax revenues and created more than 14,000 casino and construction jobs.
For more information about the PA Gaming Control Board, you can visit its website at www.pgcb.state.pa.us. At the PGCB’s web site, you can also learn more about the Board’s role in the oversight of legalized slot machine gaming in the Commonwealth and about the state’s gaming casinos. In addition, visitors to the site can access information to assist those who may have a compulsive gambling problem, review transcripts of meetings and hearings, file complaints for investigation, and request a speaker for their organization.
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