CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield Borough Council has opted out of a resolution prohibiting satellite casinos.
At Thursday’s regular meeting, the council discussed Act 42 of 2017. The Planning and Community Development Committee considered how the borough should handle Act 42 last week.
However, the committee had no quorum, as Committee Members Robbie Tubbs and Fran Selvage were not present, and could take no action.
According to the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s Web site, the changes will allow the licensing of 10 “satellite” or “mini” casinos. The new casinos will be permitted to have between 300 and 750 slot machines and up to 30 table games.
The legislation also limits where the satellite casinos can be located in relation to Pennsylvania’s pre-existing casinos.
According to the Web site, municipalities have until Dec. 31 to decide whether they want to allow the new casinos to be located within their boundaries.
During Thursday’s meeting, Solicitor F. Cortez Bell III said he has drafted a resolution, which the full council can approve if they opt to prohibit the casinos.
Council member Steve Harmic asked if any members of the council had any arguments as to why allowing the casinos would be a positive move for the borough.
Council member Jim Kling said he doesn’t know of any places within the borough that would be large enough to accommodate a casino.
He said the only place, which would come close would be the driving park, which is already leased to the Fair and Park Board.
Kling also said that while there were some benefits to having a casino, he feels it would cause even more strain on the police department.
Bell added that presently, no developers have approached the borough to build a casino, but the legislation is state-wide and municipalities must act now if they don’t want potential developers to consider their area as a potential site for a casino.
Tubbs said he would “hate” to bar potential businesses right off the bat without having a chance to discuss the issue with his constituents. He said the people he was able to speak with were in favor of the satellite casinos.
Council member Lewis Duttry said from the information he has read, there is some economic benefits to having casinos, and there are other negative issues to consider.
Duttry said the borough residents he had spoken to have also said they are in favor of allowing the casinos.
He said those he spoke to said they were concerned they would have to continue paying more and more taxes if the borough excluded potential businesses from even considering Clearfield as a potential location.
He said residents have accused the council of “chasing businesses away” in the past.
Selvage said there have been several instances in the past where businesses have been “chased away” from locating in the borough and she doesn’t want the same thing to happen in this instance.
Council member Brian Lytle said the state is limiting how many permits they will issue for satellite casinos. He said right now, all the council is deciding is whether or not to add Clearfield Borough to “the list” of places where a casino can be located.
If the borough isn’t on “the list” of locations, a potential developer would simply “move down the road” to another location that is in favor of allowing a potential casino.
Lytle said if a developer wants to build a casino in the borough, they would still be subject to all the state and local restrictions and regulations.
He said he was in favor of “leaving the door open” and to get more details if or when someone approaches the borough wanting to operate a casino.
Council President Wade Cowder said that since the majority of the council appears to be in favor of allowing the casinos, no action would need to be taken.