Morgantown Residents Opposed to Penn National Satellite Casino

Closeup of a microphone in an auditorium
At a recently public hearing, many residents of Morgantown, Pennsylvania, voiced opposition to a proposed Penn National casino.

30-second summary

  • Hearing on Penn National Gaming satellite casino plan has large turnout of residents opposing the project
  • About 250 people attended the meeting, including conservative and religious groups
  • Penn National hopes to open Hollywood Casino Morgantown, offering slots and table games, in fall/winter 2020
  • Locals are opposed due to fear of crime, religious beliefs, worry about gambling addiction

Penn National Gaming recently took part in a public hearing held by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The hearing was about the satellite casino that Penn National wants to build in Caernarvon Township. During the meeting, the casino operator revealed its project plans. Around 250 people were in attendance, with many locals voicing their concerns and displeasure of seeing a casino in their neighborhood.

Penn National’s Plans

Penn National Gaming already operates the Hollywood Casino at the Penn National Racecourse. The company has applied to operate a satellite casino that would be called Hollywood Casino Morgantown.

The operator will begin working on construction if the Gaming Board approves the application. The property would include a casino with 85,900 square feet of gaming space, 750 slots, and 30 table games. Penn National would also like to offer sports betting on-site. A restaurant, bar, and nightclub are also in the plans.

If approved, the Penn National satellite casino should be ready for operation by the fall/winter of next year. It seems that residents of the region hope they can stop the casino operator from moving forward with their venue plans. The meeting room during the hearing was crowded as residents spoke out against the plans.

Resident Concerns

The opponents expressed varying concerns, from addiction and family problems to crime. Residents lined up during the meeting to have their say as to what they fear about the potential casino. Tad Allan, a resident of Morgantown who has lived in the region for four years, is not happy with the idea of a casino, feeling that the facility will create issues with families.

At the hearing, Allan said: “If I was looking for a place to live today, I would not bring my family to Morgantown. This is a small community and the size of this casino is going to have significant impacts. It will bring in crime, it will impact the families with addiction and divorce. I am certainly in favor of economic growth, but not when it’s done on the backs of people who can least afford it.”

American and Pennsylvania Pastors Networks President Samuel E. Rohrer also commented negatively on the project. Rohrer was previously a legislator in the state and said that the casino is not right for the community due to religious beliefs.

Helping the Economy

Proponents of the Penn National satellite casino project see the venue as a way to economically aid the community. The casino would be located on a site that was developed as a complex for mixed retail operations. However, the complex was never created.

Penn National hired a financial consulting firm ESI to estimate just how much the casino can bring to the local economy. It was estimated that the facility will bring just over $94m (£71.5m) and will create 311 permanent jobs.

Another public hearing will be held in Harrisburg. Representatives of Penn National will provide oral arguments for the casino and members of the Gaming Control Board will be able to ask questions about the project. The board will then use the information to decide whether to approve a license for the casino.