CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — It’s been over a year since a State College casino was proposed for the Nittany Mall. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is still considering a licensing matter while continuing to take public comments from community members.
The majority of residents are not buying in.
“We’ve had 510 people send in messages of opposition so far,” said Andrew Shaffer, a concerned resident. “Only 57 people have sent in messages of support.”
Shaffer printed each letter and placed them on poster board to get a bigger picture of just how many people are speaking out against the casino. When he stationed the boards outside the casino’s proposed entrance, Shaffer said they filled the entire width.
“Seeing it really drives it home,” said Shaffer.
He has read the letters and said there are diverse reasons residents think the casino would be detrimental to the community, from economic impact to health and wellbeing.
“The messages in support are basically, ‘We’re happy that the casino is coming, we want to go gamble’,” said Shaffer.
Shaffer is just one resident who said they hope Penn State University speaks out against the casino, citing it would only be about four miles away from campus.
In the past, University President Eric Barron has been vocal with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board regarding university athletics and sports betting.
“We’d like him to reach out to the gaming control board again and request that they deny the license for this casino, simply on the grounds that it’s foolish to place any casino so close to a population of 48,000 students,” said Shaffer.
“We’re a controlled bunch here at State College, we don’t get rowdy like that,” said Penn State Sophomore Asa Heeter. “I’ll take a casino when I am 21 of course.”
WTAJ has reached out to Penn State University for comment, but has not received a response.
Surrounding businesses would be impacted by the casino as well.
“I could easily understand arguments that people make against the casino; however, I’ve also seen the good that can come from this,” said John Delozier, managing partner with the Nittany Hotel Group.
Delozier said whether students, residents, or visitors, the casino could bring in more customers for the surrounding hospitality industry.
“A casino at the Nittany Mall gives the entire hospitality industry one more thing to promote and that’s what we need coming off these really, really tough years,” said Delozier.
The Gaming Control Board is continuing to take public comment online (email firstname.lastname@example.org) as they review the casino’s license.