New casino could be built near Penn State's main campus

Pennsylvania has again found a taker for a mini-casino, auctioning a license Wednesday for $10 million to a Philadelphia-area private equity investor who could build it near Penn State University's flagship campus.

Ira Lubert beat one other bidder, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said.

Lubert, who helped open Valley Forge Casino Resort before selling it, was qualified to bid because he is a partner in Rivers Casino Pittsburgh. He does not have to name an exact location until he submits formal paperwork, required within six months.

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But, under auction rules, he named the center of a 15-mile radius area -- Unionville Borough in Centre County -- in which he plans to locate it.

A possible candidate is the Nittany Mall, just outside State College.

The gaming board held the auction under orders from state lawmakers in a search for cash as tax collections are buffeted by economic fallout from the coronavirus.

The bidding is under an aggressive 2017 state law to expand gambling, including authorizing auctions of 10 mini-casino licenses that allow the holder to operate up to 750 slot machines and up to 40 table games. A casino cannot come within 40 miles of another casino location.

The state received bids in five auctions in 2018, but interest petered after that.


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