Caernarvon Township officials gave Tuesday unanimous approval to Penn National Gaming’s plans for the development of a Category 4 casino in the area, despite opposition from residents
Penn National submitted its application for a license for the operation of a Category 4 mini-casino last October. The company currently owns Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pennsylvania and is looking to expand across its home state.
Penn National has pitched a plan to develop the $111 million Hollywood Casino Morgantown on a 36-acre site that is accessible from Route 10 and Pennsylvania Turnpike. The facility will feature 750 slot machines and 30 table games. Penn National also plans to add restaurants and an entertainment venue.
About 40 residents of Caernarvon Township attended a meeting with township supervisors last night. Officials voted unanimously in favor of the casino plan they were presented with, despite previously mounted opposition.
Most of the attending residents hailed the project, saying that the mini casino would revitalize the town, which has been looking for ways to blunt the consequences of a stagnant growth for years now.
According to original projections, the mini-casino could inject nearly $95 million into the local economy and to generate 255 construction jobs and 250 permanent ones. The township expects to earn around $1.6 million from the gambling facility for being its host. Caernarvon would be entitled to 2% of the casino’s slot machine revenue and to 1% of its table game revenue.
The township’s budget totaled $2.5 million last year.
Groups Mount Opposition
Last night’s meeting was mostly attended by proponents of the mini-casino project. The same could not be said about the March 4 public hearing hosted by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board at the Caernarvon Township Building.
Around 250 people took part in the hearing and many of them were quite vocal on why Penn National’s plan should be rejected.
Some of the attendees said they objected to the project for religious reasons, while others argued that a casino would not fit the social environment created in the region. There were also opponents who voiced concerns over increased crime and traffic volumes that could be prompted by the opening of the Category 4 gambling venue.
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According to township supervisors only around 35 of the 250 attendees of last week’s public hearing were residents of Caernarvon and only six of them were opposed to the casino.
Penn National has said it would need around 18 months to build its mini-casino as long as everything goes according to plan. The company needs regulatory approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Its project also needs to be given the nod by the state Department of Environmental Protection as well as by the Berks County Conservation District.
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