The public meeting, held last night at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center, was attended by residents, regional authorities, entrepreneurs, and parents of university students. Opinions on permitting a casino in the neighboringNittany Mall were divided.
Ira Lubert, a Penn State University alumni and former board trustee, has joined with Bally’s to invest $123 million in converting the mall’s old Macy’s department store into a Category 4 casino.
This will generate jobs and contribute to the region’s economic growth. And, with Penn State’s massive alumni base and other tourists coming into the region all year, not just during football season, we will create a new entertainment facility for everyone to enjoy,” Lubert told guests.
Eric Pearson Bally’s CEO said that the renovation would breathe new life into the deserted mall.
Pearson said that the team hopes that the casino will be able to act as a catalyst for revival within the Nittany Mall, which is now around 50 percent occupied.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Casinos
Bally’s intends to transform the approximately 94,000-square-foot mall area into a casino with up to 30 table games, 750 slot machines, and a sportsbook. A restaurant and bar, as well as a modest entertainment space where a DJ or other entertainers may play, are also featured.
According to Nittany Mall representatives, the mall’s client base is ageing, since younger people prefer to buy digitally. They hope the casino will entice locals under the age of 40, as well as Penn State students, to return.
The mall, which was once seen as a neighborhood benefit, is now becoming an eyesore. According to Lubert, a casino might attract new companies to the mall and the surrounding region.
Nittany Hotel Group managing partner John Delozier believes that the planned casino will undoubtedly be a significant boost to the company’s revival as a hotel sector and as a community.
Centre County has a greater number of poor individuals than most people realize. Carl Miller, a Bellefonte resident, stated that a casino would not offer nourishment for the impoverished, underemployed, and desperate. On the contrary, casino gaming entices the impoverished to put their already meager means of support at risk for the very little possibility of financial gain.
Gambling, according to a former United Methodist minister, is “a threat to society, fatal to the highest interests of moral, social, economic, and spiritual life, destructive of good government and good stewardship.”
Ira Lubert secured the Category 4 casino gambling license auction round last Sept with a $10 million offer. In an in-depth assessment, a consulting firm hired by College Township, where the Nittany Mall is situated, determined that the planned casino would have a negligible impact on the township’s traffic, water and sewer facilities, tourism, and police and first responder services.
The PGCB intends to convene a meeting this autumn in Harrisburg to further assess the Nittany Mall casino idea. At that point, the Bally’s development will be approved or rejected by the seven-member board.