By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — The first auction for the right to build one of ten “mini-casinos” authorized by a new Pennsylvania law has produced a curious result.

The operators of Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course northeast of Harrisburg have sued to block the mini-casinos authorized by a new state law. And they have also won the bidding for the first mini-casino, submitting a bid of $50.1 million, a fraction more than the license fee paid for that full-sized casino in suburban Harrisburg. Penn National Vice President Eric Shippers says both the legal action, which will proceed, and the winning bid, are part of a strategy to protect the flank of that bigger casino.

“And so we have bid in a way that we think maximizes the opportunity to play defense with one eye towards offense,” Shippers said.

The mini-casino would be located south of Harrisburg, not far from the Maryland border.

Meanwhile, Gaming Control Board spokesman Doug Harbach says southeastern Pennsylvania is not likely to host a mini-casino, because of the concentration of existing casinos and the new law’s provisions that protect them.

“[There are] a couple of issues in southeastern Pennsylvania,” Harbach said. “It’s the 25 mile buffer zone – and the grouping of casinos so close to each other. And then number two is, you’ve got a lot of communities that have opted out.”

The next mini-casino auction is later this month.


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