It’s been a while since satellite casinos made the news in Pennsylvania. The new gaming facility option was approved in 2017 and since that time, licensing and construction of the smaller gaming venues have been ongoing. This week, we did see a bit of news involving the Bally Corporation and its effort to launch a Category 4 satellite casino. Bally’s is working with Ira Lubert, a businessman in Pennsylvania, to create the casino in Unionville Borough.
Details of the Project
Back in September, Lubert was the top bidder for a Category 4 gaming license. The state has held several auctions as part of the licensing process and accepts the highest bidder as the winner. For Lubert, he paid $10,000,101 for the license. These smaller venues are only allowed to offer as many as 750 slots and 30 table games.
Lubert has plans to create the casino in Unionville Borough, within a 15-mile radius at the center of the town. In this radius is the Nittany Mall. We know via the press release of Bally’s and Lubert that the project will be located near the shopping center. Will it be placed in a vacant spot of the mall or just nearby? The answer is unclear.
If the new casino is located inside a shopping mall, it would not be the first time. Penn National Gaming is currently working on transforming a space at the York Galleria Mall that used to be home to a Sears location into a satellite casino. The company is spending $120 million on the project, which includes the just over $50 million paid for the license via auction.
The Cordish Companies also got in on the mall action. The company changed a former Bon-Ton location into the Live! Casino Pittsburgh. Located at the Westmoreland Mall, the new casino opened on November 24 to rave reviews. However, the casino shut down shortly after due to new state orders regarding COVID-19. The casino was able to reopen today, January 4, after the shutdown order was lifted.
Prepping the New Site
The new casino created by Bally’s and Lubert should cost around $120 million. Bally’s will have the majority equity interest in the property. The company will receive 100% of the profits from online gaming and sports betting.
Lubert will also get his share and will continue to reap the benefits of being involved in the gambling industry of Pennsylvania. The businessman was part of the Valley Forge Casino Resort creation. He eventually sold the casino along with his partners to Boyd Gaming, just a few years ago.
While he is no longer connected to Valley Forge, Lubert does have a small stake in Rivers Casino Pittsburgh. And of course, he will be involved in this latest venture.
All eyes will be on Pennsylvania as these satellite casinos start offering services. Will the venues be able to earn enough revenues to make up for high construction costs? With COVID-19 remaining an issue, we could see the satellite venues fall flat. Hopefully, the availability of the COVID-19 vaccinations as well as proper social distancing and mask wearing will help the smaller venues to succeed in an unstable economic environment.