By Peter Gleason
The long South Philly gaming nightmare is over!
Our town’s second casino is now good to go after the city’s original casino operator dropped a lawsuit blocking the project.
According to the Associated Press, the owners of SugarHouse Casino have dropped their lawsuit that had been blocking construction of Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia, the Stadium Casino LLP project that was awarded the state’s 13th casino license nearly three years ago.
Stadium Casino LLP is a joint venture involving the Maryland-based Cordish Companies and Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment, which operates Pennsylvania’s market-leading Parx Casino in Bucks County.
Here was the issue:
Parx is majority owned by Watche Manoukian, and Pennsylvania law doesn’t permit majority casino owners to hold more than a one-third stake in a different gaming venue. SugarHouse seized on this issue and its legal challenges to the legitimacy of the casino license have blocked Stadium Casino LLP from putting shovels to dirt.
The issue has bounced back and forth between state courts and gaming regulators, with the state Supreme Court having most recently volleyed the issue back to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (GCB) in June.
But the sweeping gambling expansion legislation signed Monday by Gov. Tom Wolf included a section that repealed the ownership limitations. Yesterday, the GCB said it considers the matter closed. Stadium Casino LLP is due to pay the $50 million slot machine fee by Nov 15.
The South Philly casino project carries a $600 million price tag and feature a gaming floor boasting 2,000 slot machines and 125 gaming tables, along with an “upscale” 200-plus room boutique hotel, restaurants and live entertainment venues.
The casino’s belated approval could cause Pennsylvania legislators to amend the number of online gambling licenses currently called for under the state’s new law.
The law allows for 12 licenses for each of the three online verticals – slots, poker, other casino table games – but the clear intent was to give each casino operator a shot at taking their action online, so expect amendments when the South Philly venue comes close to launching.