Pennsylvania Sells Mini-Casino License to Ira Lubert

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PGCB has successfully auctioned off a mini-casino license on Wednesday, with Ira Lubert, the investor who helped open Valley Forge Casino Resort, winning the $10 million license.

Mini-Casino License Sold to Ira Lubert in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania continues to expand its gaming industry after spending several weeks trying to auction off a mini-casino license. It finally succeeded to secure a buyer on Wednesday for the sum of $10 million. The license was bought by a Philadelphia-based private equity investor.

The investor, Ira Lubert, is planning to build the property near Penn State University’s main campus, according to his original proposal. Securing the license was a tight race, but Lubert managed to overcome one other bidder, posting a better overall offer, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) said.

Lubert is an experienced casino developer and investor. He helped open Valley Forge Casino Resort before he sold the property and he is a partner with Rivers Casino Pittsburgh, giving him a very good profile in the casino investment landscape.

Opposition to mini-casinos was at an all time-height two years ago in Pennsylvania.

According to his bid submitted to the PGCB, Lubert is planning to develop the property in a 15-mile radius area somewhere in Unionville Borough in Center County. According to the Associated Press, he may choose the site of the Nittany Mall, outside State College.

The approval of a new casino is also beneficial to the tax office as Pennsylvania was hit by the coronavirus lockdown same as every other state in the United States. As a result, finding new taxable income has been welcome by regulators and officials.

Mini-casinos haven’t been the most exciting part of Pennsylvania’s gaming landscape, but this is changing. In 2018, only five bids were submitted out of ten available slots. Interest quieted down after that, but it may finally be picking up.

The other bidder in the latest round may be interested to snap up a license right after Lubert did, provided the PGCB announces another auction.

The Auction Process Proves a Success despite Difficulties

Pennsylvania hasn’t been too successful in attracting bidders for its mini-casinos with most licenses starting at a minimum of $7.5 million. However, the PGCB has been keen on putting a new lease on these licenses in a bid to secure fresh money for the state.

In May, Gov. Tom Wolf signed revised auctioning rules to facilitate the application process and hopefully attract bigger interest among investors. The good news is that other companies are now also considering developing mini-casinos.

Cordish Cos, which is developing a casino and hotel property on Packer Avenue in the vicinity of Philadelphia’s sports stadiums, confirmed its intention to bid for a mini-casino license in future.

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