Philly Casino Moving Forward Thanks to New Pennsylvania Gaming Expansion

by Jim Hall

Thanks to the legalization of a gambling expansion package in Pennsylvania, a casino for Philadelphia can now move forward after a long delay.

Just last week, a gambling expansion package was signed into law in the state of Pennsylvania. With the new law, the state will be able to expand greatly upon their already existing gambling industry. Pennsylvania is already successful in the gaming world, offering quality casino gaming via 12 venues. Now, the state will be able to expand in several ways including online poker and casino games, airport gaming via tablets, video gaming terminals, daily fantasy sports and a host of other options. With the changes, a second gaming venue for Philadelphia that has been in the works for some time can now also move forward.

Live! Hotel & Casino

Live Hotel & CasinoIn every state that has legalized gaming, there are hurdles to cross in order to become an operator. In Pennsylvania, a second casino for Philly has been stuck in limbo for three years now thanks to a legal issue. Live! Hotel & Casino is a project for the southern area of the city that has a $600 million price tag for creation but has been unable to move forward due to an ownership structure issue. Thanks to the new bill that was recently signed, the stipulations are no longer valid.

Watche Manoukian, also known as Bob, owns around 85% of the Parx Casino, a gaming venue located near the Philly casino project. Competitors stated that Bob would be owning more than a third of the Live! venue, which is a joint venture between the Cordish family and Bob’s company Greenwood Racing.

The project was approved back in August by the state Gaming Control Board, despite the opposition. Just two months before this ruling, the state Supreme Court had told gaming regulators to look at the ownership structure of the project to ensure legitimacy. It was alleged that Bob was trying to hide his ownership of the project but regulators still did not agree.

One of the groups opposed to the project is SugarHouse Casino, but they have since dropped their lawsuit against the proposal. It seemed the project would be pushed through any remaining legal hurdles but now that HB 271 has passed, the process to see the casino come to fruition has now been expedited.

Legal Changes

With the passage of HB 271, the measure repeals a rule that states no slot machine licensee, an affiliate, intermediary, subsidiary or holding company can possess ownership or financial interest greater than 33.3% of another licensee or individual eligible to apply for category 1 licensing, an affiliate, intermediary, subsidiary or holding company.

The casino now can begin construction and should start by 2018. Once construction starts, it is believed that the venue would be open by 2020. This venue will be the 13th land based casino in operation for the state. Satellite casinos can also now be constructed with up to 10 being approved. Cities have already begun to look in to offering a satellite venue.

To be eligible, an area must be at least 25 miles from a current licensee holder. This is to stop any cannibalism of the industry. Penn National is a gaming operator in the state that is not happy with the possibility of satellite gaming venues. The company may actually decide to sue the state as they feel their Hollywood Casino will be threatened.

Overall, changes are happening quickly when it comes to the gaming expansion in Pennsylvania. We shall stay tuned to the latest developments and report as new information has been released.