Penn National Gaming Halts Progress of Mini-Casino Construction

Since late 2017, the state of Pennsylvania’s gambling industry has continued to grow. A gaming package was approved at that time that created many new options for the state, including satellite (mini) casinos. These smaller venues would offer slots and table games, just in a smaller scale when compared to other casinos in the state. Penn National Gaming was one operator who obtained licensing for two mini venues and they have now shutdown construction due to the coronavirus.

Halting Construction

The Hollywood Casino Morgantown and the Hollywood Casino York are the two venues in progress via Penn National. Both will now cease construction and players will have to wait even longer to access such gaming options.

The work stopped onsite after Governor Tom Wolf decided to enact a statewide shutdown of nonessential business activity. The goal of shutting down such services is to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. It is unclear as to when the work will continue. Some states are choosing to close businesses and schools for two weeks while others are 30 days.

Penn National Gaming CEO and President Jay Snowden commented on the governor’s decision stating that they support the effort to try and stop the spread of the public health threat. They are also looking to revisit their capital expenditure commitments to ensure they can preserve liquidity due to the impact of the coronavirus on their business.

Mini Casino Details

Known as category 4 facilities, the mini casinos are allowed to offer up to 750 slot games and a much smaller selection of 40 table games. The smaller venues offer the same entertainment as standard casinos but with a limited number of options.  Hollywood Casino Morgantown was set to open this November and Penn was spending $111 million on the property.

For the Hollywood Casino York, the company spent a little more, at $120 million, and was expected to get started before 2020 ended. Now, it seems that the venues will not be ready until next year as just how much time will be lost in limbo is anyone’s guess.

Penn National will now be working with the governor’s office as well as advising with health authorities on a local, state and federal level. They will determine when construction can begin again based on how the coronavirus progresses.

Gaming companies across the United States are at a standstill right now as governors across the nation are calling for social distancing. Many thought that President Trump would issue a nationwide curfew or ban on nonessential travel or shopping but that has not happened yet.

Tens of millions or more are being lost as the gaming venues must shut down in an effort to stem the spread of the virus. Everyone is hoping that things will get back to normal soon, but for now, it looks like this is our new normal. We shall see over the coming months just how much gaming companies are impacted along with other closed businesses and the American people.


Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.