Pennsylvania's Gaming Board green-lights the license for the Nittany Mall casino
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board voted Wednesday to approve issuing a license for a company to operate a casino in the Nittany Mall in Centre County, but the project could still face delays because of legal challenges from another company.
The Gaming Control Board’s unanimous vote followed a hearing with presentations by SC Gaming, the company that got the winning bid on the casino. Former Penn State trustee Ira Lubert is SC Gaming’s owner.
“I believe that the category 4 casino I plan to construct at the Nittany Mall will reinvigorate the property and draw new businesses to the mall itself and the surrounding area," Lubert said. "This in turn will create jobs and help the State College region’s economy grow forward.”
Plans are for the casino to have slot machines and table games and operate 24 hours a day. The company says it will bring the equivalent of about 350 full-time jobs, along with generating tax revenue.
The project has faced vocal opposition in the community. SC Gaming attorney Adrian King said they were aware that some people in the area do not support the project.
“But I would submit for the board, that the real opposition is they don’t like gaming," he said. "But respectfully to them — and I will state respectfully — the commonwealth itself crossed that bridge back in 2004 when the Gaming Act was passed. Most opposition to gaming is based on fears of crime and of underage gaming and responsible gaming not being conducted, but I think the track record of this industry over the last 16 years has demonstrated that that just is simply an unfounded concern.”
The project also faces legal hurdles. Stadium Casino, which had lost the bid for the license to SC Gaming, has been challenging it in Commonwealth Court, questioning the ownership interests of SC Gaming and whether they meet Pennsylvania's rules. Stadium's attorney Mark Aronchick said at a previous meeting that the case will end up in court and could add several years to a final decision.
"This issue is going to be decided one way or another by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court," Aronchick said. "Either in the Commonwealth Court proceedings that are still pending — that were argued nine months ago — or in this proceeding going forward.”
A Gaming Control Board spokesman said Stadium has 30 days to file an appeal to the state Supreme Court after the Board releases its decision on that matter, which will probably happen in the next week or two. But the board will not issue a license until the court has issued a final order.