YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Phantom Fireworks has applied for a sports betting license and if approved plans to use it at the Covelli Centre. Since the news broke Wednesday, the idea has been discussed in downtown Youngstown and so far the reaction is positive.
The sign outside of Youngstown’s Covelli Centre tells of events of the recent past and those to come. But the talk Thursday was about sports betting coming to the Covelli Centre.
“I think it’s already a known location. The city has already lost things like Hollywood Casino to Austintown. I think the Covelli Centre definitely could work. It’ll put the Covelli Centre in basically full-time use,” said first ward councilman Julius Oliver.
Phantom Fireworks owner Bruce Zoldan said his company has applied to the Ohio Casino Control Commission for a license to operate a sports betting facility in Mahoning County, and if Phantom gets the license Zoldan hopes to open it at the Covelli Centre. Zoldan and Phantom already have ties with the Centre. He owns the Youngtown Phantoms hockey franchise which plays its home games here.
“I also I feel like if someone like Bruce Zoldan is willing to invest in Youngstown then we definitely should be hearing him out,” said fifth ward councilwoman Lauren McNally.
Originally only one sports betting license was allocated to Mahoning County. But Phantom Fireworks lobbyists convinced the state legislature to add a second license.
“If Mahoning County was awarded a license for another gambling facility, Youngstown should be competitive in bringing it to our city,” said McNally.
“I’m 100% ok with that,” said Aspasia Lyras-Bernacki who owns the newly opened Penguin City Brewery two blocks from the Covelli Centre. She’s looking to bring sports betting to Penguin City by applying for a kiosk sports betting machine. It’s all part of making downtown Youngstown an entertainment district.
“I mean let’s just keep adding it. That’s what we’re creating an entertainment district. So we want to keep adding those layers of more and more things that people could come down to,” said Lyras-Bernacki.
Mark Canzonetta, owner of downtown’s Bistro 1907 restaurant, said sports betting at Covelli “would be an economic boost to downtown, and if Eric Ryan is involved it will be great.” Ryan is President of JAC Management which runs the Covelli Centre. We should know soon whether Phantom will get the license because sports betting starts in Ohio on Jan. 1.