The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) is set to hear a discussion on the State College casino project on January 25, 2023, in Harrisburg. But, the College Township Council is remorseful for the scheduled hearing. Penn State University’s main administrative center is Old Main.
Bally’s Corporation intends to construct a gaming venue at State College’s Nittany Mall near the “public ivy” campus. Still, State College is an ideal venue for a Category 4 satellite casino. Pennsylvania’s 2017 gaming expansion regulation authorizes the venues, also called “mini-casinos” , to be tethered to a Category 2 (standalone) or Category 1 (racetrack) casino.
The PGCB held multiple auction rounds from Pennsylvania’s existing casinos to apply for Category 4 licenses. This was after local municipalities and towns got the right to choose not to be selected for a mini-casino.
College Township didn’t withdraw its bid for the Category 4 casino. It covers sections of University Park and State College. It hosts Penn State University’s main campus with 6,400 postgraduates and 46,000 undergraduates.
Ira Lubert, a former trustee and a Penn State alumnus, qualified for the September 2020 auction round since he had 3 percent shares in Rivers Casino Pittsburgh. Surprisingly, his $10 million bid helped him win the auction round.
Specific individual owners of Category 2 and Category 1 casinos were urged to later take part in Category 4 auction rounds after investors started losing interest in bidding for Category 1 and Category 2 gaming sites.
Lubert chose College Township for a casino. Even so, Stadium Casino, LLC which Cordish Companies control has fiercely fought Lubert’s plan since winning the 2020 auction.
Cordish Companies Has a Case
Lubert later received Category 4 license rights for College Township after paying Pennsylvania $10,000,101 as his official bid. He later revealed that Bally’s would join his project. They formed a partnership called SC Gaming OpCo, LLC, and they want to invest $123 million in transforming Macy’s department store in Nittany Mall into a Bally’s casino with a bookmaker, 30 table games, and 750 slot machines.
Cordish accuses Lubert of breaking the PGCB’s and state laws by partnering with Bally’s a few days before the auction. The state allowed key investors and companies interested in getting a slot machine license in the commonwealth to bid in the September 2020 auction. Bally’s lacks a gaming license in the state.
The PGCB decided to let Cordish intervene in the issue in December 2022. Unfortunately, Lubert outbid Cordish, which operates Live! Casino Pittsburgh and Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia. Live! Casino Pittsburgh is a satellite venue now.
The company’s attorneys are planning to present a case on January 25 to the PGCB seeking clarification on why Pennsylvania hasn’t approved Bally’s State College casino’s plan. The gaming board stated that the presentation will last about 15 minutes. Besides, it will have input from the PGCB’S Office of Enforcement Counsel and SC Gaming OpCo.
Lubert has denied several times violating any gaming law. But, Dough Harbacj, the PGCB’s chairperson, stated that a licensing vote on Bally’s project will be added to the agenda to allow board members to vote on it.
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