The next major business opportunity for Indiana Borough may be a gamble — literally.
Indiana council Tuesday began discussions on the possibility of allowing the borough to be considered as a potential site for a casino.
In October, Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law Act 42 as passed by the General Assembly. The legislation expands gaming opportunities throughout the state and created Category 4 ancillary casinos.
The number of ancillary casinos will be limited to 10 licenses that will be auctioned off by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board after Jan. 15, 2018. The act provides that all municipalities will have the opportunity to “opt out” of being the location for a casino if the municipality’s governing body passes a resolution and sends it to the Gaming Control Board by the end of December. If the governing body takes no action, the municipality could be in the running for hosting one of the 10 new casinos.
The placement of any ancillary casino may not be within 25 miles of an existing competing casino license.
Category 4 ancillary casinos could operate between 300 and 750 slot machines and up to 50 table games.
Borough manager Brad Gotshall said that strictly from a business standpoint it makes sense for the borough not to opt out. Under Act 42, Category 4 casinos must pay 2 percent of gross revenue from table games and 4 percent of gross revenue from slot machines as a local share assessment. Half of those assessments (2 percent of slots revenue and 1 percent of table games revenue) will be distributed to the host municipality. Those percentages could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars for Indiana, Gotshall said.
In a memo to council members, Gotshall said it’s unclear whether any developer has an interest in placing a casino in Indiana.
If council takes no action to opt out at its December meeting, Indiana will be among municipalities where a new Category 4 casino could be located.
Council Tuesday also passed an ordinance — approved for advertising two weeks ago — to borrow up to $500,000 from the borough’s sewer maintenance fund and transfer it to the general fund to pay for day-to-day operations through the end of the year. The interest on the loan will be 4.25 percent and the loan must be repaid within two years.
Gotshall said at council’s Nov. 7 meeting that the loan is needed to cover a shortfall in revenue until state grant money for the borough comes in, and is necessary in part because the state was late in approving its budget.
Council Tuesday also approved for advertising an ordinance modifying property maintenance regulations on fire escapes, carbon monoxide detectors and trash collection. The changes are designed to make the regulations easier to understand and administer.
Council will hold its annual reorganization meeting at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 2.