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Hampton/Shaler

Shaler commissioners vote to prohibit casinos in township

| Friday, Dec. 15, 2017, 1:45 p.m.
Shaler officials vote to keep township free of casinos.
Shaler officials vote to keep township free of casinos.

Shaler commissioners do not want to take their chances when it comes to a casino opening within the township.

The commissioners Dec. 12 approved a resolution prohibiting a small casino from operating within the municipality.

In order to tackle a budget shortfall, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a measure in October expanding Pennsylvania's casino-style gambling. Under the law, municipalities have until Dec. 31 to decide if they want to allow satellite casinos — facilities with up to 30 table games and 300 to 750 slot machines — to operate within its confines.

The law already contains a provision that one of the new casinos under the state's operation cannot open within 25 miles of an existing casino. However, the rule doesn't apply to the 10 largest existing casinos, such as Rivers Casino, which could open a satellite facility after securing a license.

“Out of an abundance of caution, if we pass this tonight because we haven't had time to get a really good look at it because the legislature gave it to us so late, can we retract this at a future meeting?” Commissioner James Boyle asked.

“Yes, you can always change your mind the other way, but if you don't adopt it by the end of the year, you're stuck with it. You're vulnerable to a satellite casino,” township solicitor Harlan Stone said.

Pennsylvania's casino gaming revenue topped $3 billion in 2016, with table games reaching a record high, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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