Penn State University is another step closer to having a casino close by. The Bally’s Corporation is targeting a former Macy’s department story at the Nittany Mall for its satellite gaming project.
Ira Lubert, a Pennsylvania businessman and Penn State alum, acquired a Category 4 casino license in September through an auction held by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). Lubert’s winning offer was a little more than $10 million.
Category 4 gaming licenses, commonly referred to as satellite casinos, are allowed to house up to 750 slot machines and initially 30 table games. They were approved under the state’s 2017 gaming expansion package. Originally reserved for the state’s larger Category 2 casino licensees, the PGCB opened up the bidding to individuals who own stakes in the full-scale gaming properties after an auction round failed to receive any bids.
Lubert was part of the Valley Forge Casino Resort ownership group before it sold the property to Boyd Gaming for a massive profit in 2017. Lubert continues to own a three percent stake in Rivers Casino Pittsburgh.
Soon after winning the Category 4 mini-casino license, Lubert reached a deal with the newly formed Bally’s Corporation to build the gaming property.
The Nittany Mall has long been considered a prime destination for the casino. The shopping complex is located less than four miles from Penn State’s Beaver Stadium and Bryce Jordan Center.
The struggling mall is in College Township, a municipality that did not opt out of being considered for a satellite casino.
Lubert and Bally’s say they’ll spend $120 million, inclusive of the auction fee, to build a casino “near the Nittany Mall.” A local impact report of a potential casino released this week shows that the former Macy’s is being targeted. Lubert and Bally’s paid for the impact review.
[The] report indicated the location of the proposed Category 4 Casino as the former Macy’s Department Store in the Nittany Mall,” Adam Brumbaugh, township manager, said in a release.
Brumbaugh explained that in 2006, College Township established zoning provisions that remain to this day that allow for gaming operations in the area.
Local Impact Findings
Lubert and Bally’s contracted Ballard Spahr, a national law firm headquartered in Philadelphia, to conduct the casino impact review. The firm worked with Econsult Solutions, also based in Philly, to handle the probe.
The report said the Bally’s casino is expected to have a “net positive impact on College Township tourism, helping to revitalize the Nittany Mall and attract other retail and hospitality operators to the area.”
The study concluded that while the casino development is expected to have a negligible impact on College Township in terms of capital improvements, casino tax revenues for the township “will be a significant net positive.”
An increase in crime and therefore the need to hire additional first responders is expected to be small. The report said “the proposed casino … may result in an additional 6.2 calls for police each month, representing an approximate 1.7 percent increase in non-traffic related police calls for the State College Police Department.”