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PGCB makes headway with Nittany Mall Mini-Casino Licensing

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board made headway with the licensing hearing process for the proposed mini casino to be located in Nittany Mall as all members of the board voted for the procedure to proceed as planned despite opposition.

In 2018, businessman and former Penn State trustee, Ira Lubert, got a lease option to open a casino on the mostly empty Nittany Mall located in College Township near the Penn State University campus. About two years ago, Lubert backed by SC Gaming LLC, in partnership with Bally’s Corp. put in a bid for a casino license to open a 94,000 square-foot mini casino in the venue. However, a Philadelphia-based competitor, Stadium Casino LLC is asking questions concerning the ownership of SC Gaming LLC.

According to Mike Aronchick, the legal representatives of Stadium Casino LLC, the partnership between SC Gaming and Bally’s goes against the rules of the PGCB as Bally’s and its other investors have not been registered beforehand with the regulator. Aronchick noted: “There are red flags galore for us in pursuing this issue. The purpose of the statute is to ensure no cannibalization of gaming with new operators. After the bid, (SC Gaming) entered into all kinds of arrangements and framework agreements.”

The attorney added that even if it proceeds past the PGCB, SC Gaming’s licensure will be questioned and eventually delayed in CommonWealth Court lawsuits and eventually, Supreme Court lawsuits. He pointed to the case of Sugar House Rivers Casino in Philadelphia that went through similar processes.

However, Stephen Kastenberg, attorney for SC Gaming, responded by saying SC Gaming plans to prove its ownership by conducting a thorough investigation. Despite that, the board still has the final say as to the ownership and eligibility of SC Gaming.

Meanwhile, in response to Stadium Casino LLC’s queries, the PGCB has voted to allow the Philadelphia operator act as an intervener in the licensing hearing process on a limited basis and without the rights of requesting for ownership discovery. The PGCB chair, Denise Smyler assured Stadium Casino LLC of 15 minutes to speak during the next hearing in the capcity of an intervener.

The proposed mini-casino is expected to create up to 400 jobs. The venue is proposed to offer 750 slot machines, 30 table games and an on-site sportsbook.

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