Super Mario Slots?

If you live in Pittsburgh and want to keep the Penguins in town, your best hope might be a slot casino. Even though the team won’t directly run the proposed slot parlor, its profits may help pay for a new arena. From the Post-Gazette:

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ partner in a proposed $1 billion development at the site of Mellon Arena is willing to put up $290 million to pay for a new, 18,000-seat home for the National Hockey League team.

The Penguins’ development, which would secure the team’s future in Pittsburgh, is contingent on winning a license for the city’s slot machine casino.

Besides construction of a casino and a replacement for the aging arena, oldest in the NHL, the development would include a mix of offices, residential units and retail space.

The Penguins will team with a yet-unidentified gambling operator and with Nationwide Realty Investors of Columbus, Ohio., to handle development.

As part of its application for the Pittsburgh slots license, the gaming operator intends to pledge the money to build a new arena. It also would finance construction of the casino for 3,000 slot machines, with room to expand to 5,000.

The Penguins will not be the applicant for the state license, nor will the team take any profits from the slots casino. Once a new arena is built, it plans to turn ownership over to the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority.

Penguins find arena funds

I think the team should go all out and have current players serving as casino hosts, welcoming players and the like.

As is usually the case, money trumps everything. If pro football didn’t have such lucrative TV revenues to fall back on, I’m sure that the NFL would be just as keen to use gambling to help pay for its stadiums.

There isn’t a word about connections between gambling and sports being inappropriate now, is there?

Super Mario slots?

No, Nintendo isn’t developing a platform slot machine/game (at least that I know of). Rather, Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins may soon own a slot machine license. From the Post-Gazette:

Specifics have yet to be developed, but team officials hope to convince the new state Gaming Control Board that no licensee could contribute as much to the community as the Penguins. Atop the list of what they are expected to offer is a commitment to cover all of the estimated $250 million cost of a facility to replace Mellon Arena, along with a pledge to keep the 37-year-old National Hockey League franchise in town for the long term.

For four years, the Penguins have sought a new arena funded mostly with public money. Their plan to fund it with slots profits, team officials are expected to argue, would spare state and local taxpayers the burden of replacing a multipurpose arena that opened in 1961 and is among the oldest of its size in North America….

“I think it’s a very innovative approach, and I hope the Penguins move aggressively,” said state Sen. Jack Wagner, D-Beechview. “I can tell you that I believe the Pittsburgh parlor will be the most lucrative in the state, and there are going to be funds available for the owner to do something extra to help the community. If that’s getting an arena out of the deal and keeping the Penguins in town, that’s a win-win for us. The last thing I want is for us to lose professional hockey in Pittsburgh.”

Sen. Sean Logan, R-Monroeville, who also has a spot on the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority that owns Mellon Arena, has been vocal in his opposition to public funding for a new facility. But he was effusive in his support of awarding a slots license to the Penguins.

“I think that’s a great idea,” Logan said. “Having a venue like that, where they could have shows, hockey games and other events connected with the slots parlor … if the Penguins and Mario Lemieux are serious, that’s something we all should look into.”

Logan added that the local stature of Lemieux — the Penguins’ owner, Hall of Fame center and long-time charitable contributor to the medical community — could give him an edge over applicants whose backgrounds are not as well known.

The Penguins would be expected to produce the $50 million license fee and follow the same procedures as any other applicant, legislators said.

Although professional sports generally try to avoid any association with gambling, the NHL already has given its blessing for the Penguins to pursue a slots license. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said last week that he would take no issue with the team owning and operating a parlor, even if it were part of the arena. Two years ago, he granted the Calgary Flames permission to seek a gambling license.

Penguins to seek slots license, pledging profits for new arena

I guess that’s not a total reversal on the league’s part; I’m not aware of the NHL being as rabidly anti-gambling as the NFL, which won’t even allow commercials for Las Vegas during the Superbowl.

Now that slots have become a reality, things will get really interesting, as competition for the licenses heats up.