PA Gaming Review: Derby Day Odds, Mini-Casino Plans Near PSU & Skill Games Drama

Posted on September 3, 2020

Some big PA gaming news in a mini-way: Look for a new mini-casino in the center of Pennsylvania if all goes according to plan.

There’s also wagering news: Tiz the Law remains the Kentucky Derby fave even with a bad post position. But a couple of horses might give him a run for the money.

And illegal gambling devices are hiding in plain sight across the state as the legislature diddles and law enforcement is stretched.

Philly money man places a $10m wager on a new mini-casino near PSU

Ira Lubert, a minority shareholder in Rivers Casino Pittsburgh, and a Philadelphia equity and real estate man successfully outbid a competitor to secure the last available mini-casino license in PA during a state auction. He bid $10,000,101.

The proposed location is near Penn State University, most likely at a struggling mall in College Township. Lubert is a graduate of PSU and is on the university’s board of trustees. He had been a part of the opening of Valley Forge Casino in 2012.

He beat out another bid presumably from the Cordish Companies, which had previously said it intended to bid. Cordish is developing a full-sized casino in Philadelphia and a mini-casino near Pittsburgh under the Live! Casino name.

Neither Lubert nor a spokesperson for Live! have commented.

Tiz the Law prohibitive Kentucky Derby favorite

Tiz is sharply favored for Saturday’s Derby. But the horse drew a lousy gate position at post 17 in the crowded field. Still, the horse with numerous PA shareholders and three in the training team all originally from PA, is currently at 4-5 odds on FanDuel Racing.

His closest competitor, Art Collector, scratched. That leaves Authentic and Honor A. P. as the other main contenders.

Bettors in Pennsylvania can wager on the Derby at a number of retail sportsbooks and off-track betting parlors (OTBs) around the state. Also conveniently, online horse betting is available at FanDuel and PABets.

Television coverage runs from 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5 on NBC. Post time for the Derby is 6:50 p.m. No fans are allowed, so claim your easy chair at home early.

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PA gaming industry can’t shake illegal skill games

Windfall Amusement’s 777 Casino in tiny Kenhorst Borough in Berks County operated from last December until late August between a dollar store and a pawn shop and with its host community’s approval. Indeed, the town even agreed to allow the unlicensed casino to add more games and extend hours.

Local indifference to gaming laws left Berks County District Attorney John Adams at a loss for words.

Adams, his detectives, and the PA State Police raided and closed the place recently. But State Police told PlayPennsylvania there are more in operation, some of the same size and scope. They are unlicensed, not regulated, and not taxed.

Adams placed the blame on legislative indifference.

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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