A mini-casino may be coming to Centre County after all.
Investor and Penn State trustee Ira Lubert on Wednesday had the winning bid at a Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board auction for a new Category 4 casino license. Lubert’s $10,000,101 bid named Unionville in Centre County as the centerpoint location, meaning the casino could be placed within a 15-mile radius of the borough in a municipality that has not opted out of consideration as a casino location.
The planned site was not specified and Lubert could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
A mini-casino allows for 300-750 slot machines. For an additional fee of $2.5 million, a licensee can apply for permission to initially operate up to 30 table games, with an additional 10 after the first year of operation.
In 2018, Lubert was the authorized member of Nittany Gaming LLC, which signed a memorandum of lease option for the former Bon-Ton space in the Nittany Mall. But at a 2019 auction for a category 4 license there were no bidders, and state Rep. Scott Conklin, who was Democratic chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, said the group looking to open the casino could not finalize an agreement with the mall.
Twenty Centre County municipalities opted to prohibit being the site of a mini-casino when the state began rolling out category 4 licenses in 2017. College Township did not, citing the potential for the Nittany Mall, which was the only location in the township where a casino would be permitted.
College Township is within the 15 mile radius of Unionville.
Lubert is required to pay the bid price within two days and has six months to submit a formal application that will include the precise site of the proposed casino, along detailed information about the proposed building plan, amenities and employment projections.
After the application is submitted and determined to be complete, the PGCB will publish it on its website and conduct a public hearing in the municipality where the casino is proposed.
Host municipalities and counties each receive 2% of a casino’s slot machine revenue and 1% of table game revenues.
Lubert is licensed by the PGCB through his ownership interest in Holdings Acquisitions Co., LP, operator of Rivers Casino Pittsburgh. He was one of two bidders on Wednesday. The other bid was sealed and not disclosed.