Last year, the Keystone made an attempt to auction a license for a mini-casino or satellite casino with the minimum bidding amount set at $7.5 million. This particular auction was a flop since there was no show of interest and subsequently no bids. As such, the mini-casino license auction process was put on the shelves, that is, until this week.
On Wednesday, September 2, the Pennsylvania Gambling Control Board (PGCB) opened the bidding process for a license to operate a Category 4 satellite gaming outlet. This time, thankfully, the auction some interest despite initial speculations that it would be just as bad as it was in the previous event. These were mostly being based on the fact that the overall business climate has been greatly impacted by the pandemic. Moreover, even the existing mini-casinos license holders are yet to open their facilities. Fortunately, construction is already going on in some of the sites.
Now, the latest auction attracted rather unusual interest, so to speak. Ira M. Lubert, a renowned Philadelphia investor, bid for the license. His bid which was in excess of $10 million – $10,000,101 to be precise – was the winning bid. He managed to outbid an unidentified offer that was also submitted during the Wednesday auction.
Lubert’s eligibility to bid for the mini-casino licenses was based on the fact that he is currently a partner in Rivers Casino Pittsburgh thanks to his ownership interest in Holdings Acquisitions Co. LP. The investor was also being part of the ownership group of Valley Forge -based Casino Resort. Currently, he serves as the chairman and co-founder of Philadelphia-based real estate investment firm Lubert-Adler.
While Lubert has not officially commented on the mini-casino license option, there is a decent amount of information on potential locations for the Category 4 satellite casino. The investor selected a center point fixed on Unionville, Centre County. A 15-mile radius has been reserved around that spot but to make it official, Mr. Lubert will need to submit an application for a mini-casino license in the reserved zone within the next six months.
One of the locations that could host the mini-casino is Nittany Mall which is located just outside Penn State’s flagship campus. These speculations arise from a recent move made by the investor with regards to signing some paperwork on behalf of Nittany Gaming LLC. The paperwork is for an option to lease a former department store located in the Mall.
Now, this is possibly the last Category 4 satellite casino license auction in the state. According to Gaming Control Board spokesperson Doug Harbach, no more auctions will be held “unless there is legislative change.”