Centre County Casino Project to Have Major Economic Impact
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Centre County Casino Project to Have Major Economic Impact

Centre County Casino Project to Have Major Economic Impact

The Center County casino, which is yet to be launched, is slated to be one of the most economically viable projects that the city has yet to undertake. The mini-casino at Center County will be constructed on the vacant Macy’s lot after approval was given by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Once complete, the casino will be located within a 15-mile radius of Unionville.

The category 4 casino will be developed by Bally’s Corporation for an estimated $120 million and construction is set to begin during the first half of the year. Bally’s agreed with Ira Lubert, who is a well-known real estate and private equity investor to develop the licensed casino. To move things forward, Lubert recently received permission to apply for a Category 4 slot machine license that will allow the category 4 casinos to cater to slot lovers in the city.

The Center is expected to grow PA’s rising iGaming and sports betting market. Apart from that, the center is going to provide jobs to thousands of people that have been left jobless by the pandemic. This means that all individuals not just in Center County but also those in the surrounding areas of Clearfield, Huntington, and other neighboring counties, will be able to apply for jobs.

Once complete, the center will offer punters a variety of games including slots and all the expected table games. If the casino also manages to receive separate licenses and certificates, the casino will also offer brick-and-mortar sports betting, online sports betting, as well as iGaming.

A mini-casino of Center County’s size will have sufficient space for anywhere between 300 and 750 slot machines. However, if Bally’s chooses, it can also apply for approval to operate an additional 30 table games after the first year of being in business. For the casino to offer sports wagering, it must also get a separate license, worth a cool $10 million.

In total, the Center County construction project is expected to cost Bally approximately $120 million for construction, as well as for licenses for iGaming and sports betting. In return, Bally’s will retain 100% of the interest of all physical sports betting, online sports betting, as well as iGaming activities.

Aside from providing state residents with much-needed job opportunities, a new mini-casino will also help to breathe some new life into the otherwise boring Nittany Mall area, which has been severely affected by the economic downturn in the last couple of years. Several years ago, Nittany Mall was one of the most vibrant malls in the region. However, ever since some of the big-name renters moved on, the likes of Macy’s and JC Penny, the area has been dry and devoid of activity.

As of now, there is only one additional anchor store at the mall, which is Dunham’s Sports. The good news is that Rural King announced not too long ago that it would be taking over Sears’ former location, which should help to return some sense of vibrancy to the area. Once construction has been completed, the Center County mini-casino is anticipated to generate more than $100 million in yearly revenue.

According to an economic and fiscal report by the state, yearly operating revenue for the casinos will increase to $101 million from $91 million between the 1st and 5th years of operation. By the 10th year, Center County Casino is expected to have generated as much as $ 116 million by the time the property crosses the 10-year mark.

This will be PA’s 5th mini-casino. The mini-casino is among 4 of PA’s 5 mini-casinos that will utilize vacant mall or commercial space rather than building the casinos from the ground up. Not only will this ensure that the city’s currently vacant infrastructure is fully utilized, but it will also help to significantly bring down costs. 

Nittany Mall was an ideal choice for a location as it's already established infrastructure is familiar with locals. The mall also experiences a high volume of traffic, which should help to keep the casino floor as busy as possible once it launches. Construction of the casino should start anytime within the first half although it is not clear whether the casino will also have an on-site restaurant or bar.


The state is paving the way for more indoor and outdoor events

As more adults in the state continue to receive the vaccine, the state has been amplifying its reopening and recovery efforts. So much so that the state recently announced that it will get rid of all pandemic restrictions on Memorial Day, which falls on May 31st, 2021. When these restrictions are eradicated, it will allow casino floors, bars, restaurants, and other businesses to operate at 100% capacity. 

It also means that indoor and outdoor event gathering limits that have been in place since March 2020 will also be done away with. The only thing that residents must contend with is face coverings, which will still be required when one is out in public. The state officials claim that face masks will continue to be a part of the modern culture until at least 75% of adults in the state receive the jab.

So far, it appears that only 45% of the adult population has been vaccinated. Across the pond in Philly though, restrictions have been eased and are expected to go away completely by June 11th. Retail stores and offices will no longer be required to operate at reduced capacities while the rules of dining in bars and restaurants will go away by May 21st.


Final Thoughts

Aside from the Center Casino, 4 other mini-casinos are also in the works thanks to the expanded legal gambling laws in the state. The Live! Pittsburgh mini-casino, which was constructed by the Cordish Gaming Group is the only mini-casino that is operating as of now. 

Live! Currently occupies an old department store space at the Westmoreland Mall. An additional 2 mini-casinos will also be opened by Penn National Gaming later this year. One will be situated at the York Galleria in York County while the other will be constructed from the ground up in Berks County.

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