City council says no to ‘satellite casino’

The City of Warren has elected not to let a category four casino come into Warren.

But city council can change its mind should an opportunity present itself.

Back in October, the Associated Press reported that Gov. Tom Wolf signed a measure to expand casino-style gambling “already the nation’s No. 2 commercial casino state – after lawmakers approved it… in a bid to help the state government plug its biggest cash shortfall since the recession.”

That legislation created satellite casinos – licenses what would allow the state’s 10 larger casinos to run secondary facilities “allowing up to 750 slot machines and 30 table games at a facility that isn’t within 25 miles of another casino,” the AP reported. “Bidding starts at $7.5 million, with a table games certificate costing an extra $2.5 million. A municipality could choose to prohibit such an establishment inside its borders.”

City Manager Nancy Freenock said that the city could opt out but that a municipality must pass a resolution to do so by December 31.

While the city can rescind that action at a later date, Freenock told council that the decision to opt out can’t be made after December 31.

She said that the act provides a host municipality fee and that the fee can’t exceed more than 50 percent of the city’s budget.

Speaking of the opt out, “(we) would be passing up some revenue and development,” Mayor Maurice Cashman said. “(I) tend to doubt that this size casino would ever show up in Warren.”

“We can always rescind it if we’re approached and (this is) something we want to do,” Councilwoman Elissa Davis said.

Councilman Phil Gilbert and Cashman voted against the opt out, which was approved 4-2.