Bally’s to Build Pennsylvania Mini-Casino in Centre County
With Pennsylvania casinos reopening Monday after a three-week coronavirus lockdown, Bally’s announced plans with real estate and private equity investor Ira Lubert to develop a Category 4 casino in Centre County.
Construction on the “mini-casino” is expected to begin in the first half of 2021 (with one year to complete) and would be the 15th Bally’s Casino across 11 states, according to a news release. It will be built within a 15-mile radius of Unionville Borough. Centre County is home to Penn State University.
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Lubert won the right to build the mini-casino in early September with a $10 million bid for the license, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Category 4 means the mini-casino can have a maximum of 750 slot machines and 40 tables. The bigger casinos can have 5,000 slots max and 250 tables. Bally’s is planning for 750 slot machines with 30 table games and will provide retail sports betting, online sports betting and online gaming, subject to separate regulatory approvals, the news release said.
“Expanding our rapidly growing, national footprint into the attractive Pennsylvania gaming market represents yet another major milestone for Bally's and a great way to cap off a truly extraordinary year,” George Papanier, president and chief executive officer of Bally's Corp., said in the release. “Regional, land-based casinos remain the cornerstone of our portfolio diversification strategy, providing the necessary support for the growth, development and success of our future sports betting and iGaming initiatives.
”We look forward to combining our own proven track record of greenfield development with Ira Lubert's local knowledge and expertise to bring Bally's first-in-class gaming experience and amenities to customers and sports fans across Pennsylvania.”
Pennsylvania casinos were closed Dec. 12 until Monday as part of a new COVID-19 mitigation order announced by Gov. Tom Wolf.
Cost Expected to be Around $120M
The total cost of the project, including construction, licensing and sports betting/iGaming operations, is expected to be around $120 million, the release said. Bally's will acquire a majority equity interest in the partnership, including 100% of the economic interests of all retail sports betting, online sports betting and iGaming activities associated with the project.
“I am excited to have Bally's as our partner to complement our vision, industry experience and financing capabilities,” Lubert said. “Together, I believe we will make this transformative project successful for all stakeholders and look forward to the positive impact the redevelopment will have on the community.”
Lubert’s projects include a minority founding investment in Rivers Casino Pittsburgh and the development of the Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, about 20 miles outside Philadelphia.
Now a Dozen Online Sportsbooks in PA
Wind Creek and Betfred USA Sports announced on Dec. 23 the launch of their online sports betting platform in Pennsylvania. The announcement was just a month after The Sportsbook at Wind Creek Bethlehem opened its retail location.
"We're excited to formally launch online sports wagering in Pennsylvania with our partners at Wind Creek Hospitality following the successful launch of the retail sportsbook earlier this fall,” Bryan Bennett, COO of Betfred USA Sports, said in a news release. “We look forward to bringing over a decade of online bookmaking experience to the Commonwealth and delivering the best sports betting experience to Wind Creek guests."
Betfred is the state’s 12th online sports betting platform. The 11th to go live was BetMGM, launching on Dec. 18 in partnership with Hollywood Casino Morgantown in Caernavron Township, a “mini-casino” currently under-construction by Penn National Gaming.
Lou Monaco had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene with emphasis on NJ and PA. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media (NJ.com) in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.