It does not seem there are State College residents who support allowing Bally’s Corporation to redevelop the Nittany Mall-based former Macy’s department store and turn it into a casino. On the contrary, hundreds of Centre County citizens have shared their concerns that gambling should not be allowed to enter Penn State University Park.
Soon after former university trustee Ira Lubert won the Category 4 satellite casino auction of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) in September 2020, Bally’s Corporation rushed to join forces with him and Penn State alumnus. At the time when he won the auction, Mr. Lubert managed to outbid Cordish Companies, a Baltimore-based company that already operates two casino venues in the state of Pennsylvania – Live! Casino Hotel Philadelphia and the Category 4 property Live! Casino Pittsburgh.
It was the former university trustee and Cordish Companies that managed to qualify to participate in the auction held in September 2020 because they held ownership stakes in a slot machine operating license in the Commonwealth. Mr. Lubert currently owns a 3% portion of Rivers Casino Pittsburgh.
At the time, Bally’s Corporation did not qualify to take part in the auction because the gambling operator does not have any vested interest in holding a slot machine license in the state of Pennsylvania. According to Cordish Companies’ claims, Mr. Lubert was the one standing behind a scheme with Bally’s before the auction that contravened the bidding rules of the state. That is exactly why Cordish Companies believes that the application for the Category 4 license held by Bally’s Corporation and Mr. Lubert should be dismissed.
A hearing on the matter is set to take place before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on January 25th.
Category 4 Casinos Became Part of Pennsylvania’s Legal Gambling Sector in 2017
The state of Pennsylvania significantly expanded gambling in 2017. At the time, local lawmakers authorized Category 4 casinos, retail and online sports betting, daily fantasy sports (DFS), and video gaming terminals offered at truck stops.
Under the provisions of the 2017 gambling expansion law, municipalities and townships across the state received the right to opt out of taking part in the consideration of locations suitable to host a Category 4 casino venue development. Casinos operating under a Category 4 operating permit are commonly known as satellite casinos or “mini-casinos”. Due to the close proximity to the State of Pennsylvania, College Township has been considered one of the locations considered for the project.
However, the College Township Council has not been willing to become a part of the casino expansion process, with the majority of the local community stating its opposition to allowing a casino to be developed in Center County.
Reportedly, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has received more than 5,000 letters expressing disagreement with Bally’s Corporation plan during the feedback input period, with a multitude of concerns shared. After the closure of the feedback input period, the local community has turned to various media hubs covering the controversial issue to share their concerns and make sure the competent authorities hear their voice of opposition.