4th mini-casino set for south-central Pennsylvania

The fourth mini-casino license auctioned off by Pennsylvania gambling regulators is for a location in south-central Pennsylvania, officials said Thursday, a short drive from Gettysburg in a region with one full-fledged casino.

The owners of Parx Casino in suburban Philadelphia picked a general location along Interstate 81 in Cumberland County, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said.

The casino could be built anywhere within 15 miles of a centerpoint selected by Parx Casino in South Newton Township in western Cumberland County, a short drive from Gettysburg, Shippensburg, Chambersburg and the Maryland border.

Parx Casino, which bid $8.1 million, is controlled by London-based businessman Watche Manoukian. The new casino could become the fourth in Pennsylvania in which Manoukian has a stake, although three of the four remain unbuilt.

The gambling board a day earlier invalidated the highest bid for the license of nearly $9.9 million by Las Vegas Sands Corp. because the casino giant selected a location in western Pennsylvania that is too close under the state law to another prospective casino site.

The closest casino to the site picked by Parx Casino is Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, 45 miles to the east. Its owner, Pennsylvania-based Penn National Gaming, also won the rights last month to build another mini-casino in neighboring York County.

A state law passed last year authorizes the gambling board to auction the rights to 10 new mini-casinos in an effort to scrounge money for a threadbare state treasury. Each mini-casino can have 750 slot machines and license holders can pay another $2.5 million to operate 30 table games. The four license auctions held to date have raised $120 million.

Bids are limited for now to the owners of Pennsylvania's 11 casino licenses that allow holders to operate up to 5,000 slot machines and 250 table games.