Pennsylvania Gaming Board Approves Cordish Petition to Intervene in State College Casino

Posted on: December 14, 2022, 04:31h. 

Last updated on: December 14, 2022, 08:22h.

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approved Cordish Companies’ petition to intervene in the state’s consideration of issuing a Category 4 “mini-casino” license to SC Gaming OpCo, LLC.

Pennsylvania gaming State College casino Cordish Bally's
The Nittany Mall in State College, Pa., has updated its wayfinding signage to highlight a proposed Bally’s casino coming to what was formerly a Macy’s department store. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is set to consider licensing the project in 2023. (Image: ABC23)

SC Gaming was founded in 2020 by Penn State alumnus Ira Lubert. Because Lubert holds a 3% ownership position in Rivers Casino Pittsburgh, the businessman qualified to bid during the PGCB’s Category 4 auction round in September 2020. Lubert emerged as the victor with a winning bid of $10,000,101.

Lubert’s offer outbid a separate scheme submitted by Cordish. Lubert has since partnered with the Bally’s Corporation in proposing a $123 million project, inclusive of the $10 million licensing fee, to transition the former Macy’s department store at the Nittany Mall near Penn State University into a casino with as many as 750 slot machines, 30 table games, and a sportsbook.

Cordish has raised legal concerns that Lubert’s winning bid was unjust because he had an agreement in place with Bally’s before the auction. Bally’s was barred from participating in the auction because the company didn’t meet the qualifying criteria of already possessing a slot machine license in the commonwealth or being a key investor in an entity that does.

Time Granted

Cordish believes Lubert violated PGCB auction rules by agreeing ahead of the bidding to lend his Category 4 mini-casino to license to Bally’s should his offer prevail. The Baltimore-based operator of Live!-branded casinos in Maryland and Pennsylvania filed a petition to intervene with the PGCB in July 2021.

Cordish’s attorneys argued that Lubert didn’t apply for the license by himself, which was in violation of the 2017 amendments to the Pennsylvania Gaming Act that authorized the satellite casinos.

“Lubert effectively created an investment vehicle with persons who lack ‘an ownership interest in a slot machine licensee,’ side-stepping the eligibility requirements. What Lubert did violates the Gaming Act and voided SC Gaming’s application, vitiating the Board’s authority to even consider it,” Cordish’s legal team argued in the petition before the PGCB.

Cordish — operating in Pennsylvania as Stadium Casino, LLC — has been granted “intervenor status” and will be provided with 15 minutes to address the board during SC Gaming’s licensing hearing. That hearing will take place sometime next year.

Today’s PGCB order, however, wasn’t a total success for Cordish. The state opted to deny Cordish’s discovery requests proposed in the petition to intervene.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article wrongly reported that Cordish’s petition to intervene had been denied. The state only denied the company’s discovery requests. 

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