NBC10Philadelphia.com - Jesse Gary
The Pennsylvania Gaming Board is holding a public hearing today in which applicants will make their pitch to become the second casino in Philadelphia. NBC10's Jesse Gary has the story.
Six applicants for Philadelphia's second and final casino license are making their pitches to state officials.
The morning presenters include the company that owns Xfinity Live, an entertainment complex near Philadelphia's three sports stadiums. The company says a casino there would add 2,000 direct and indirect jobs and yield $130 million in state and local taxes.
Competitor Penn National Gaming, based near Reading, wants to build a Hollywood-brand casino in the stadium district.
And casino operator Steve Wynn is scheduled to push for a location just north of downtown, in the city's Fishtown neighborhood.
The 2004 state gambling law calls for two casinos in Philadelphia, one of which, Sugarhouse Casino, is up and running.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board revoked the second license for a long-stalled Foxwoods project in 2010.
The daylong hearing at the convention center Tuesday gives each applicant about 45 minutes to showcase their casino plans. The eventual winner, expected sometime later this year, will have the right to build the second casino in Philadelphia.
This is the second go-round for the gaming board, after it granted a Philadelphia license to a Foxwoods-backed group in 2006, then revoked it four years later amid financial and political challenges for the developers.
This time, more suitors have come calling, promising hundreds of millions of dollars in investment and the creation of a tourist attraction that would bring an economic boost to the city and the state.
The applicants are backed by Watche Manookian, the London-based businessman who owns Parx casino and racetrack in the Philadelphia suburb of Bensalem; international casino mogul Steve Wynn and his Las Vegas-based company Wynn Resorts Ltd.; two local real estate developers, separately, Bart Blatstein and Ken Goldenberg; the Wyomissing, Pa.-based casino and racetrack operator Penn National Gaming Inc.; and Joe Procacci, who founded a Philadelphia-based wholesale fruit and vegetable distributor.
Three of the bidders -- the groups backed by Penn National, Procacci and Manookian -- have offered plans to build casinos in South Philadelphia, in or near the city's sports stadium complex. Wynn wants to build on the Delaware River waterfront just north of Center City, near where the city's first casino, SugarHouse, already is operating. Goldenberg is targeting a casino for a parking lot near the city's historic district, while Blatstein's plan is to build at the iconic white tower that formerly housed The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News.
PROPOSED PHILADELPHIA CASINO LOCATIONS
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A spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter said Monday that the process is at an early stage and that he is gathering information on the applicants and their proposals.
In March, people can start submitting written comments to the gaming board, and it expects to hold two days of hearings in April to gather public input, gaming board spokesman Doug Harbach said. More hearings are expected after that as board members try to determine which applicant has the strongest plan.
Eventually, the seven-member gaming board must vote to determine the winner. The governor appoints three gaming board members while the Democratic and Republican leaders of the state House and Senate each appoint one member. Under the law, all four legislative appointees and at least one of the gubernatorial appointees must agree on the winner.
There is only one Philadelphia resident on the board, Jim Ginty, the former president of AT&T Pennsylvania.
The state's 2004 law legalizing casino-style gambling authorized 14 casinos, including two in Philadelphia. Currently, 11 casinos are operating in Pennsylvania, four of them in the Philadelphia region.