Exeter 34th Berks municipality to say 'no' to mini-casino

Township supervisors could change their minds

EXETER TWP., Pa. - Exeter Township is the latest Berks County municipality to remove itself from the running of potential locations for a mini-casino, at least for now.

The township supervisors voted 3-2 Wednesday night, opting out of a pool of potential selections for a casino location.

Pennsylvania gave local governments an end-of-year deadline to decide if they want to be in the running for one of 10 Category 4 licenses as a part of the recently passed Act 42, which expands casino gambling in the state.

Category 4 mini-casinos could see up to 50 tables and at least 300 slot machines.

Supervisors Lisa VanderLaan, William White and Gary Lloyd voted to opt out of consideration for a casino; supervisors Jeff Bukowski and John Cusatis voted "no" to leave the door open should the township want to pursue a casino in the future.

Act 42 allows a municipality to rescind its resolution at a later date, if it so chooses, but it would likely be trickier to get the township back in the running.

Bukowski defended his vote, saying, "I don't like the idea of opting out without thinking it through. I'm not sure it's going to be that easy to opt back in."

White simply "wouldn't want to see a casino in our township."

Exeter has become the 34th municipality in Berks County to opt out of hosting a mini-casino.

As of Wednesday, the others are Albany, Alsace, Bern, Bethel, Brecknock, Centre, Colebrookdale, District, Earl, Greenwich, Hereford, Jefferson, Maidencreek, Oley, Penn, Pike, Richmond, Rockland, South Heidelberg, Tilden, Upper Tulpehocken, and Windsor townships.

Also opting out are the Berks boroughs of Boyertown, Centerport, Fleetwood, Kutztown, Leesport, Lenhartsville, Shillington, Sinking Spring, Wernersville, West Reading, and Wyomissing.

Reading City Council and Mayor Wally Scott have publicly said that they would welcome a mini-casino, with Scott adding that he has already been approached by interested parities about specific locations in the city.

Exeter supervisors also approved the 2018 budget, which does not include any tax increases, as well as the fee schedule and adoption of new tax collector fees, upping the cost from $35 to $40.

The meeting was the last for Bukowski, whose term has come to an end. He called his time on the board an "honor and a privilege." He will be replaced by David Speece.

Supervisors will next meet on January 8.

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