By Kaylee Lindenmuth
RINGTOWN - In October, House Bill 271 was signed into law, allowing for the creation of up to 10 Category 4, or mini, casinos within the commonwealth, and within bill is an option for municipalities to opt-out.
Three Ringtown Valley municipalities have chosen to do just that. The borough of Ringtown and the townships of Union and North Union passed resolutions prohibiting the placement of such a facility within their municipality's borders.
According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, under the law, a Category 4 casino "could operate between 300 and 750 slot machines and eventually up to 40 table games," and cannot be located "within 25 linear miles of an existing Category 1, 2 or 3 casino facility."
Under the law, 10 licenses will be auctioned off for the Category 4 casinos at an minimum bid price of $7.5 Million, with an initial round open only to current holders of Category 1 (Race Track) or Category 2 (Stand-Alone Casino) licenses. The first such auction is set to occur on January 24 at 10:00am in Harrisburg.
"Act 42 also established a minimum bid price of $7.5 million for Category 4 slot machine licenses. A separate certificate for table games can then be obtained through Board approval for a fee of $2.5 million. A Category 4 facility may have between 300 and 750 slot machines along with a maximum of 30 table games in its first year of operation with the capability of adding an additional 10 tables games after its first year of operation," a press release issued by the Gaming Control Board in December noted.
In order to prohibit the placement of a Category 4 facility within their borders, a municipality was required to pass a resolution by the end of the calendar year 2017. Union Township was the first to do so, passing their resolution on November 7, followed by North Union Township on December 4, and Ringtown borough on December 21, according to the Gaming Control Board.
No other northern Schuylkill municipality passed a resolution banning the facilities.
A total of 18 municipalities in Schuylkill County prohibited the facilities. They include the townships of Barry; Branch; Cass; East Brunswick; Eldred; Rush; South Manheim; Walker; Wayne; and West Brunswick, along with the boroughs of Orwigsburg; Schuylkill Haven; Mechanicsville; Pine Grove; and Port Clinton.