PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Pennsylvania Convention Center will play host to a beauty contest of sorts, as six groups of wealthy businessmen and casino company representatives deliver their sales pitch to state gambling regulators in their pursuit of a potentially lucrative casino license in Philadelphia.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board's daylong hearing at the convention center Tuesday will give 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.
The 9 a.m. meeting will be streamed live on the gaming board's website. The groups filed applications by the Nov. 15 deadline and political and grassroots support for or opposition to particular sites has yet to materialize, as it did after the gaming board received five proposals in 2005 for the two Philadelphia casino licenses.
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.
- Gaming & Lottery
- Politics & Government
- Pennsylvania Convention Center