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Local leaders get answers to gambling expansion law at community forum

Wednesday night, state Sen. Wayne Langerholc Jr. hosted a community forum for local elected officials to get answers to their questions about a new gambling expansion law. (WJAC)

SIDMAN -- A new gambling expansion law, signed by Pennsylvania’s governor in late October, has many municipalities asking questions about what it could mean for their town.

That's why Wednesday night, state Sen. Wayne Langerholc Jr. hosted a community forum for local elected officials to get answers to their questions.

Under the law, each municipality can pass a resolution to opt-out of allowing a category four mini-casino within their borders.

But many say new casinos could pave the way for new revenue and more jobs,

Langerholc says the purpose of the meeting was to provide transparency for the new change in legislation.

Representatives from the PA Gaming Control Board helped answer questions many local leaders still have.

According to officials, there are 10 licenses in the commonwealth, available for companies to bid on in an auction.

It's not cheap. The minimum bid is $7.5 million for slots and another $2.5 million for table games.

The county and municipality where the casinos are built would each receive 2 percent of total slot machine revenue and also each receive 1 percent of table game revenue.

Langerholc says it could provide economic benefit to the community and stimulate ancillary growth.

"Is this the cure-all for all of our woes? No,” Langerholc said. “But this could be possibly one piece of the puzzle to help to stimulate some economic development, possibly bring some jobs to the area and really provide economic opportunities to the region."

These 10 licenses allow up to 750 slot machines, but no less than 300. It also allows up to 30 table games at these satellite locations, which cannot be within 25 miles of a competing casino.

Recently, we reported that city of Johnstown Mayor Frank Janakovic is already courting casino companies.

Johnstown city councilwoman Marie Mock says it's a big thing to consider.

She attended the meeting to learn as much as she can before she makes a decision, but right now, she says the city should at least try.

"Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” Mock said. “I think this is something that could bring in revenue, jobs. That's what we have to do. We've got to stop saying no to everything and we've got to push forward and think out of the box a little bit and if this is presented to us, I think we ought to take the opportunity."

Eleven municipalities in our viewing area have already prohibited these mini-casinos.

All other municipalities have until December 31 to vote to keep casinos out.

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