Lehigh Township Supervisors passed a resolution to ban category 4 casinos from the township at their Nov. 28 meeting, a move that comes after the passage of amendment to the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act in October that expands gambling opportunities throughout Pennsylvania.
The expansion allows for up to 10 category 4 casinos in the state of Pennsylvania, which are mini-casinos that allow for anywhere from 300 to 750 slot machines, and eventually up to 40 table games, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The legislation also states that category 4 casinos cannot be located within 25 miles of a category 1, 2 or 3 casino.
Lehigh Township’s move to ban category 4 casinos falls within a section of the legislation signed into law by Gov Tom. Wolf that allows Pennsylvania municipalities to prohibit them via resolution.
“Each municipality shall have the option to prohibit the location of a category 4 licensed facility within the municipality by delivering a resolution of the municipality’s governing body to the board no later than Dec. 31, 2017,” the act reads. “No category 4 licensed facility may be located in a municipality which has exercised its option under this paragraph.”
Chairman of the Lehigh Township’s Board of Supervisors, Darryl Snover, underscored how the township had a short amount of time to protect the township from being a potential landing spot for a category 4 licensed facility.
“The state’s trying to push this. They’re looking for revenue in any way they can,” he said. “We have a very small window, by the end of the year, to prohibit [category 4 casinos].”
Township Solicitor David Backenstoe warned the board that if the township were ever to rescind their prohibition, they would not be able to reimplement it, referencing language in the amended act.
“Once you do approve it, the state law also says you can’t unapprove it,” Backenstoe said.
The language Backenstoe referenced reads, “A municipality that prohibits the location of a category 4 licensed facility within the municipality under subsection (A) may rescind that prohibition at any time by delivering a new resolution of the municipality’s governing body to the board. A municipality that rescinds its prior prohibition according to this subsection may not subsequently prohibit the location of a category 4 licensed facility in the municipality.”
The board went on to unanimously approve the resolution.
The next Lehigh Township Board of Supervisors meeting will be on Dec. 12, 2017 at 7 p.m.