“The door has been closed on a casino this year…” why it could be a while before Central PA has a casino

Local News

College Township, Centre County, Pa- It’s a topic of frequent conversation in Central Pennsylvania: will a casino come to the region?

Cities like Altoona and State College have been mentioned recently as target spots for a casino, but recent events indicate that the wait will go on for a Casino in Central PA.

It could be at least another year, perhaps much longer before the region sees slot machines and table games. There were talks of a casino going in at the Nittany Mall, but no existing casino owners were interested.

“The winner of today’s auction will win the right to select a category 4 location.”

This announcement came at the start of Wednesday’s PA Gaming Control Board meeting, as they were auctioning off a Category 4 Casino License. This was the first of five planned auctions for new casino’s that could be located anywhere in gray on the map below.

Most of Central PA would be eligible, as long as local municipalities agree to zoning that allows a casino… something that is allowed in College Township, Centre County (where the Nittany Mall is located).

“The local officials there said yes… this could be something we could live with,” said Tor Michaels, Chief of Staff for Representative Scott Conklin, (D) PA 77th District, who serves as the Democratic Chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee.

On Wednesday’s auction, the State Gaming Control Board asked for any final casino bids… making the announcement: “If you haven’t done so please [place your bid] immediately…”

But then there was silence.

“Having received no responses this auction is cancelled,” a spokesman for the board said.

None of the state’s 13 existing casinos made a bid. Under state law, this means no more new casino licences can be sold until PA legislators create a new law allowing more to go out for bid.

The four more auctions planned for this year were canceled since nobody bid on the first license.

“The door has been closed on a casino for this year,” Michaels said.

He added: “When something like this happens… the lost opportunity for employment is what we really regret.”

One entity called “Nittany Gaming LLC” is looking to put in a casino at the Nittany Mall, at the former location of the Bon-Ton store.

But, under state law, only existing PA casinos, none of which are owned by Nittany Gaming LLC , can bid on a casino license.

Why weren’t any existing casinos interested in expanding to Central PA? The video and story below explains.

WTAJ reached out to ownership of all 13 casinos in PA to see why they chose not to bid on a new casino license.

Penn National Gaming, headquartered in Wyomissing, PA in Berks County, said they are already busy enough working towards two new casinos: one in Berks County (Morgantown, PA) and another in York County.

The company added that they feel Central PA is a good expansion market for another casino group.

Another company, said they’d be competing against their own casinos’s in other parts of the state by opening one in Central PA.

The remaining 11 casino groups replied with “no comment” or did not respond to WTAJ’s inquiries.

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