Timed with the January 4 reopening for casinos in Pennsylvania due to COVID-19, there is a report of a new mini-casino coming to the center of the state.
Bally’s Corporation (NYSE: BALY) announced that it has signed a framework agreement with local PA businessman Ira Lubert to jointly design, develop, construct and manage a Category 4 licensed casino. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board recently awarded Lubert the right to apply for a Category 4 slot machine license for a casino to be located within a 15-mile radius of Unionville Borough, Centre County, Pennsylvania, near the Penn State main campus.
Lubert won the bidding for the right to build the casino with an offer of approximately $10 million. Bally’s says it estimates that the construction costs will be estimated at another $120 million. The announcement follows Lubert having bid successfully to obtain a mini-casino license in September 2020.
The ties to the announced location are not by accident as Lubert is a graduate of Penn State University and is a member of the university’s board of trustees since 2015.
Initial construction for the casino is expected to begin in the first half of 2021 and will take approximately one year to complete. It will be subject to receipt of all applicable regulatory approvals and is planned to include up to 750 slot machines and 30 table games. The casino will also provide, subject to receipt of separate licenses and certificates, retail sports betting, online sports wagering, and online gaming.
George Papanier, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bally’s Corporation further commented on the details and 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. 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.
As mentioned, the total costs of the project including construction, licensing, and sports are estimated at $120 million. 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.
In commenting about Bally’s project, Ira Lubert said,
I am excited to have Bally’s as our partner to complement our vision, industry experience and financing capabilities. 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.
With a strong footprint in the Northeast, Bally’s owns Bally’s Atlantic City in New Jersey, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Delaware, and two other properties in Rhode Island. It has since rebranded those Twin Rivers Holdings properties under the long-recognized Bally’s name.
There have been reporting Bally’s is seeking to join the Michigan sports wagering market, which opens this month. It is also likely a Bally’s online presence should be coming to New Jersey to join their retail operation sometime in 2021.
Like Betfred, FOXBet, and a few other noted sportsbook operators, Bally’s is a bit late arriving but should be a more visible brand to the national US sports betting public this year.
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Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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