Former Springetts supervisor on list of speakers at mini-casino public hearing

Jana Benscoter
York Dispatch
  • The first of two public hearings is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at the township’s administrative building, 1501 Mount Zion Road. A second public hearing will be held at a later date in Harrisburg, the state board has reported.

Former Springettsbury Township supervisor Blanda Nace is among those expected to speak Thursday, Nov. 1, at a public hearing on a potential mini-casino at the York Galleria mall.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is hosting the hearing to gather information that will help state officials determine whether they will award Penn National Gaming a license to operate the proposed mini-casino: Hollywood Casino York.

The first of two public hearings is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at the township’s administrative building, 1501 Mount Zion Road. A second public hearing will be held at a later date in Harrisburg, the state board has reported.

According to emails obtained by The York Dispatch through a Right-to-Know request, Nace in January orchestrated the relationship between the township and Penn National Gaming. He resigned as supervisor shortly after the board changed its zoning ordinance to allow a casino in the township because he moved out of the township.

Nace will speak at the public hearing as strategic director of development for the York County Economic Alliance.

More:How would 'Hollywood Casino York' affect Springettsbury Township?

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Blanda Nace of the York County Economic Alliance.

Contacts: Township Manager Ben Marchant and Director of Community Development Jessica Fieldhouse were connected to Penn National Gaming Vice President of Public Affairs and Government Relations Jeff Morris on Jan. 16 via an email Nace sent.

Morris followed up with an email written to supervisors on Jan. 26. He wrote that Penn National “would very much appreciate the opportunity to meet ... should you be interested in learning more about our company, our vision for a category 4 facility in York County and our interest in Springettsbury.”

Supervisors voted 4-1 in February to change the township's status from opt-out to opt-in to be considered a potential host location of the state’s first mini-casino.

Email correspondence between Penn National and township officials seemingly stopped  Jan. 30 and then resumed on Aug. 9, shortly after supervisors voted at a July meeting to allow for casinos in the township’s zoning ordinance.

Impact study: According to the emails, Morris contacted Marchant  on Aug. 9 to inform him that Penn National was moving forward with its Economic Impact Study for a Category 4 casino within the vacated Sears at the York Galleria.

Part of Penn National’s application was to submit the study, which was completed by Philadelphia-based Econsult Solutions Inc., to show how a mini-casino would potentially impact Springettsbury Township.  

The study notes that Penn National plans to rehabilitate 79,300 square feet during a single phase of construction. Construction is estimated to take 12 to 18 months “once final approvals are secured,” the study explained.

Penn National Gaming submitted its application to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, including a rending of the proposed "Hollywood Casino York."

“The proposed casino includes a 136-seat casual dining location, 32-seat bar, lounge and small stage, and a 23-seat Grab N’Go Grill,” the study continued. “Under a Category 4 License, a satellite casino is allowed up to 750 slots and 30 tables in year 1, with the ability to add an additional 10 tables after year 2. Penn National plans to open with only 500 slots and 20 tables in year 1, in order to assess market demand.”

The report redacted where the site is expected to “primarily draw visitors from.”

Penn National says the development of Hollywood Casino York is an overall investment of nearly $120 million, which includes the cost of the license. It will generate approximately 200 new permanent local jobs and more than 75 construction jobs, Penn National stated.

Overall, the report relayed, annual impacts expected include: 

  • $50.9 million within the township economy, supporting 220 jobs and $6.7 million in earnings
  • $72.2 million within York County, supporting 370 jobs and $12 million in earnings
  • $77.9 million within the commonwealth economy, supporting 400 jobs and $13.6 million in earnings

The report concluded that police and emergency services are capable of managing additional calls stemming from the new mini-casino.

In addition, Springettsbury Township is expected to receive 2 percent of the casino's gross tax revenue on slot machines and 1 percent from table games.

Employees work in a training room Hollywood Casino in Grantville, near Harrisburg, Friday, August 24, 2018. The casino is operated by Penn National Gaming, which may open a mini-casino in York County. Bill Kalina photo

Hearing: The deadline to sign up to speak at the public hearing is Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Other expected speakers include: from Penn National Gaming, John Finamore, senior vice president regional operations, Nelson Parker, senior vice president of corporate development, and Daniel Ihm, vice president and general manager; Don P. Bishop of Affinigent Inc.; Kevin Schreiber of the York County Economic Alliance; Springettsbury Township supervisor Charles Wurster; and Daniel Hoff and Jon Meshel.