Reading City Council urges approval of mini-casino in city

'We are in full support of this'

READING, Pa. - Both Reading City Council and the Mayor Wally Scott administration are on board with allowing a mini-casino in the city.

City Council voted unanimously Monday night to urge the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to approve a mini-casino in Reading.

"With gambling facilities, there are always negatives, but the positives far outweigh them," Councilman John Slifko said. "This is an opportunity to help with the revitalization of downtown. Gambling is going to go somewhere; we might as well have it here and reap some of the good aspects."

"We are in full support of this," said Councilman Jeffrey S. Waltman Sr. "Our message is, 'Take a very close look at us, because we're here to support the effort.'"

Mayor Wally Scott said that, while there are no guarantees the city will see a mini-casino, he wants the state to know that Reading is very open to the opportunity.

He also said two individuals have expressed an interest in opening a mini-casino in Reading and asked if two properties – a city-owned property at Fifth and Penn streets and a privately-owned property at 511 Penn Street – were still available.

Councilwoman Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz said that, when casinos were initially established in Pennsylvania, legislators were aware of the fact that there are people who have gambling problems and set aside funding for both prevention and treatment of compulsive gambling.

This resolution is the result of a measure recently passed by the state to help fund Pennsylvania's budget. It allows for 10 mini-casinos in the commonwealth in locations outside a 25-mile radius of existing casinos.

The mini-casino, or Category-4 casino, allows for 300 to 750 slot machines and up to 50 table games.

As of Monday evening, 201 municipalities, including six in Berks County -- Bethel Township, Centre Township, Penn Township, Pike Township, and West Reading -- have voted to prohibit mini-casinos, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board's website.

In other business, Joshua Schmeck took the oath of office as fire administrative officer.

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