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Letters: Now Is the Time for Penn State to Take a Stand on Nittany Mall Casino

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An Open Letter to Penn State University President Bendapudi

Regarding the proposed Nittany Mall casino, I wrote and published an open Letter to former Penn State President Barron on March 5. No response was received from Old Main. 

Please consider integrating college gambling education and prevention efforts into existing Penn State programs about alcohol, drugs and other risky behaviors. 

Seventy-five percent of college students gambled during the past year (whether legally or  illegally). Most of those students who are old enough to legally gamble can do so responsibly, but the most recent research estimates that 6% of college students have a serious gambling problem that can result in gambling addiction, unmanageable debt and failing grades.

Penn State has already responded vigorously to alcohol-related problems. As you know, all colleges and universities have policies on student alcohol use; however, only 22% have a formal policy on gambling. Those without policies in place have the responsibility to inform students of the risks of excessive gambling as well as how to recognize the escalation of recreational gambling into problem  gambling and finally into a gambling addiction. 

Now is the time for Penn State to meet that challenge and implement a formal policy on gambling. 

Now is not the time for Penn State to continue to refuse to even acknowledge the proposal for Bally’s Corporation to open a casino in the vacant Macy’s store at the Nittany Mall. 

The Penn State Board of Trustees? Absolutely silent. To them, the proposed casino is a non-issue and a done deal. It is also an off-limits topic that is required to be ignored as mandated by their unspoken pledge of allegiance to donors powerful enough to impose that mandate upon the university. 

Now is absolutely the time for Penn State to finally speak out publicly as to  whether Penn State University supports the approval or the denial of the casino’s  license application for the proposed Nittany Mall casino. There are over five hundred public comments of casino opposition posted on the College Township website. 

Each of those concerned citizens e-mailed their casino-related feedback to the  Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) at [email protected].  

Since April 15, over 1,100 people have signed an online petition opposing the  Nittany Mall casino. A hard-copy petition has been signed by 965 local opponents expressing their strong opposition to the casino. 

Penn State University must do the same right now by providing the PGCB with the university’s official position about the recommended approval or denial of the casino’s license application. It is time to end the policy of absolute silence that Penn State has continually showed about the Nittany Mall casino. 

Thank you for your consideration of this important and growing issue. Your  leadership in voicing Penn State’s support of or opposition to the Nittany Mall casino would be appreciated. 

Your predecessor chose to ignore our pleas to address this issue. WE ARE  confident that you will not make that same choice! 

Daniel Materna 

Casino would be ‘destructive’

I’m writing to strongly oppose the construction of the proposed casino at the Nittany Mall. I believe that a casino in this area would be destructive to the community. Many people are struggling to make ends meet, particularly now with rising inflation, high fuel costs, etc. The enticement of prospective winnings at a casino would lead many to make poor choices that hurt themselves, their marriages and their families. This in turn will have a wider negative impact on the whole community, including increased crime. The damage done to individuals and families will more than offset any increased revenues to local governments.

As far as the potential for more jobs, local employers have had problems finding enough employees. Jobs going to a gambling facility would thus make it harder for some of these already-established businesses. A casino may look good “on paper”, but it would lead to broken lives and be a drain on the community.

Tom Witmer,