The proposed Nittany Mall casino in State College, Pennsylvania, continues to receive massive pushback, this time from a group of community members.
Andrew Shaffer, a software developer at Penn State’s Applied Research Lab, is leading a local movement to stop the development of the casino.
In 2020, investor and former Penn State trustee Ira Lubert was the highest bidder during Pennsylvania’s satellite casino auction. Litigation has temporarily postponed construction on the $120 million casino.
Despite this, community members are still actively fighting to shut down the project entirely.
Residents oppose Nittany Mall casino
Shaffer, a resident of State College since 1999, said he opposes the casino due to the significant risks of gambling addiction on college students and young adults.
After starting an online and hard-copy petition, Shaffer found that community members oppose the Pennsylvania casino at a rate of 9-to-1. Shaffer said he collected over 3,300 distinct signatures for the online and physical petitions combined.
Recently, Matthew Schuyler Chairman of the governing board at Penn State University, said the university will not weigh in on the casino project.
“The proposed casino is planned for a property in College Township, but it is otherwise not associated with Penn State University.”
Resident Randolph Hudson said although he doesn’t oppose gambling altogether, a casino at Nittany Mall is something he cannot support.
“I’ve been to Las Vegas. I’ve walked through casinos, and there’s a place for them in the world, you know everything in its place. But Happy Valley is not the place for a casino.”
Does a new casino hold value for Pennsylvania?
Additionally, Shaffer believes that the casino project will do more harm than good due to an already saturated market.
“All the people who want to gamble can gamble easily. They don’t even have to go to casinos. They can gamble online if they want to.”
Lubert, in partnership with Bally’s Corp., plans to transform the Nittany Mall into a casino just a six-minute drive from Penn State University. The Category-4 satellite casino calls for 750 slot machines and 30 table games.
Additionally, the casino estimates it will create at least 500 construction jobs and 350-400 permanent jobs.
Eric Pearson, the prospective CEO and general manager of the new casino, said the project would provide “dynamic career growth opportunities,” for the community.
“The casino entertainment business offers so many great opportunities that you can come in at an entry-level position, and you can work your way up.”