State College Casino Hearing Delayed by Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board

Posted on: October 18, 2022, 11:19h. 

Last updated on: October 19, 2022, 10:34h.

The planned Bally’s State College casino hearing scheduled for Wednesday, October 19, regarding a request to intervene from a rival gaming operator in the state has been delayed by at least a month. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) said Tuesday that more time is needed before considering the request to intervene.

State College casino Penn State Bally's Ira Lubert
The since-closed Macy’s department at the Nittany Mall. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is considering a plan from Bally’s to place a casino inside the State College shopping complex. (Image: Google Maps)

Bally’s hopes to transform the former Macy’s department store at the Nittany Mall into a Category 4 “mini-casino.” The proposed venue would have as many as 750 slot machines, 30 table games, and a sportsbook.

Many residents in the State College community, which is home to Penn State University’s main campus, have voiced strong opposition to the gaming development. The community outcry led to the College Township Council having a change of heart from previously supporting the casino.

College Township councilors are reviewing their legal options to block the $123 million development. The local government earlier this month decided against spending taxpayer money to conduct a thorough review as to what sort of negative consequences and societal harms a casino might bring Happy Valley.

Township Solicitor Louis Glantz recommended the council against the study.

“Attempting to persuade a state agency to circumvent the developer’s approval would be an intentional attempt to interfere with the land development approval,” Glantz advised. “The ramifications of such interference by the municipality could, and likely would, result in a civil suit against the township.”

Delay Unrelated to Opposition

Those in the State College community speaking out regarding the Bally’s initiative have overwhelmingly opposed the plan. Of the nearly 5,000 submitted letters and emails to the PGCB, all but about 100 have been against the casino.

With College Township deciding not to opt-out of Category 4 consideration before the Jan. 1, 2018 deadline, and with the Nittany Mall meeting zoning requirements, there’s seemingly little legal recourse for the local government.

The PGCB will in due time consider the merits of the Bally’s project and vote on issuing the Rhode Island-based firm a gaming license. Tomorrow’s planned hearing regarding the State College project was to review Baltimore-based Cordish Companies’ request to intervene in the process.

Cordish, which operates Live! casinos in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, was outbid by Bally’s during the state’s fifth Category 4 auction round in September 2020. But Bally’s wasn’t actually the high bidder. That honor fell to Penn State alum and former trustee Ira Lubert. Lubert qualified to bid because he holds a 3% ownership position in Rivers Casino Pittsburgh.

Lubert, soon after securing College Township for a mini-casino after winning the auction round with a $10 million bid, partnered with Bally’s for the undertaking. Cordish alleges that Lubert and Bally’s partnered prior to the auction round and, therefore, submitted a bid as an unqualified entity.

Only companies holding gaming licenses, as well as key stakeholders in current casinos, were eligible to participate in the September 2020 auction round.

State Response

As to why the State College casino request to intervene matter was removed from Wednesday’s meeting, PGCB spokesperson Doug Harbach said the board requires additional time.

There have been numerous documents filed in this matter which need to be reviewed by all parties, including the Gaming Control Board,” Harbach told “As a result, the board is not comfortable moving forward with a hearing this month.”

The Nittany Mall where Bally’s hopes to open a casino is less than two miles from the Penn State campus.