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State Gaming Board Hearing On Casino Proposed For Mall In State College Draws Supporters

Slot machines could be part of a proposed casino.
Associated Press
Slot machines would be part of a proposed casino developers want to build in the Nittany Mall in Centre County.

A Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board hearing on a proposed casino in Centre County drew supporters, who say the casino in a shopping mall near Penn State would create economic development and revenue.

The $123 million casino would go in an old Macy’s in the Nittany Mall, which the developers said is half-empty.

Nittany Mall general manager Polly Welch said online shopping and the pandemic mean they’ve lost retailers.

“With all these challenges you have to think in other ways, and fortunately the casino gives us an opportunity to think in a different way," Welch said.

She said she had already heard from people interested in leasing space for retail stores and restaurants if the casino goes in.

The proposed mini-casino would have slot machines, game tables and a sports-themed restaurant and bar.

A rendering of the entryway to the casino SC Gaming OpCo LLC wants to build in the Nittany Mall in State College.
SCGaming OpCo LLC
A rendering of the entryway to the casino SC Gaming OpCo LLC wants to build in the former Macy's in the Nittany Mall in State College.

Supporters say it will create well-paying jobs during construction and permanently, along with bringing revenue to the area. Speakers included about nine local and state leaders and residents who support the project, and a few who raised concerns.

Carl Miller, of Bellefonte, said the casino industry is only interested in making a profit for its executives and investors.

“Who loses? The community loses its quality of life, and the poor experience greater loss," he said.

Gaming Control Board member Sean Logan said there is an ongoing problem the developers would need to think about: people leaving children in cars at casinos.

“By the grace of God, a kid hasn’t died yet," he said. "Every day I think we’re going to get a call to tell us something happened to a child.”

He said in the past week, about 12 children were left in cars.

The board received about 50 written comments, which will be posted to the commission website. A hearing and vote on the project will be held in Harrisburg.

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