New casinos for Philadelphia

Gambling regulators paved the way for Philadelphia to become the largest city in America with a casino. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved eleven applications for permanent slot-machine licences. Each casino will be allowed as many as 5,000 slot machines. A further five licences were allocated for the first stand alone casinos under the Race Horse Development and Gaming Act of 2004.

The eleven licences were further broken down into two categories: category one and category two licences.

Category one licences can operate the maximum of 5,000 slot machines at existing race tracks. The winners included Chester Downs and Marina, Downs Racing, Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment Inc., Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, Presque Isle Downs and Washington Trotting Association. All these operators had conditional licences that were granted earlier this year, but the new Act now awards them permanent status.

Category two licences were awarded for stand alone slot facilities which may also operate a maximum of 5,000 slot machines. The Act also stated that two of these licences must be in Philadelphia, two must be in tourism-enhanced locations across Pennsylvania and one must be in Pittsburgh.

HSP Gaming’s Sugarhouse Casino and Philadelphia Entertainment’s Foxwoods Casino will operate the two licences in Philadelphia, with both expected to be open by 2008.

PITG Gaming Casino will control the Pittsburgh licence, also expected to be open in 2008 and the Monty Airy Casino and The Sands Bethworks Casino will operate the remaining two licences.

Applications rejected included a proposal by St Louis-based casino operator Isle of Capri Casinos Inc to build a casino next to NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins arena and pay for a new $290 million stadium for the team. The decision has now left the Penguins’ future in doubt. An application from Donald Trump’s New Jersey-based Atlantic City was also rejected.

Chairman of the Gaming Control Board, Tad Decker, said that the decision process was a tough procedure, but is confident the new granting of the new licences will benefit the citizens of Pennsylvania.

"Creating a new industry is a complex and arduous journey, but I can now stand with my fellow Board members and announce to the citizens of Pennsylvania that they are a step closer to significant property tax relief, additional jobs, and a reinvigorated horse-racing industry," said Decker.

The board refused to disclose the reasons behind their choices, stating that those would be made known in a few days when a document is released.

Decker also thanked his fellow board members for their commitment to the project and their attentiveness to ensuring the appropriateness of applicants.

"I would like to thank my fellow Board members - Ray Angeli, Mary Colins, Jeff Coy, Ken McCabe, Chip Marshall and Sanford Rivers - for their hard work and dedication to this project during the past two years. The citizens of Pennsylvania can be assured that we have chosen economically viable, reputable operators who will run safe, enjoyable and profitable gaming facilities," Chairman Decker said.

Editor, - 2006-12-21 11:11:19

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