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What does it mean for a municipality to “opt-in” or “opt-out” of having a mini-casino?

A change to Pennsylvania law in 2017 created an opportunity for Category 4 mini-casinos to be built in municipalities across the state.

Municipalities were given the options to bar these casinos from their jurisdiction. To do so, the municipality had to pass a resolution and submit it to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board by Dec. 31 of last year.

This essentially was to allow municipalities to “opt-out” of having a casino in their area.

More than 1,000 municipalities chose to “opt-out” by passing resolutions banning the casinos, according to a list published by the Gaming Control Board.

Most of the municipalities in Cumberland County were on that list, meaning the municipal boards voted to not allow the mini-casinos within their jurisdiction.

If a municipality, like Shippensburg Township, did not pass a resolution in time, it cannot later choose to bar mini-casinos.

However, municipalities that opted-out may reverse that decision and “opt-in” or allow mini-casinos.

To do so, the municipality has to pass a new resolution ending its prohibition on mini-casinos and deliver that to the Gaming Control Board.

This can be done at any time, but “a municipality that rescinds its prior prohibition may not make any additional changes to subsequently prohibit the location of a Category 4 licensed facility in the municipality,” according to the Gaming Control Board.

So, if a municipality did not “opt-out” by Dec. 31, 2017, it is open to having a mini-casino, barring any other municipal restrictions.

If the municipality did “opt-out,” a mini-casino cannot be built in that jurisdiction unless the board ends its prohibition. However, if it does end the prohibition on mini-casinos, that decision cannot be reversed later.

Category 4 casinos are allowed to house 300 to 750 slot machines and 30 table games.

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Email Joshua Vaughn at jvaughn@cumberlink.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Sentinel_Vaughn.

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