In a move that surprised both casino investors and anti-casino activists, Pennsylvania gambling regulators pulled the plug on Foxwoods, the casino planned for South Philadelphia. The move gives more momentum to a legislative push to have that license available for statewide bid.
The state’s gaming act requires two of the casino licenses to be located in Philadelphia. But some lawmakers want to change that.
Curt Schroder, a Republican, is the chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee. Schroder intends to introduce legislation to sell that license to the highest bidder, no matter the location.
“We believed then and we believe now that they were given away at bargain basement prices. At $50 million, so now that there will be a license that will, one way or the other, be back on the market. I feel it’s important that it go to [the] highest bidder.”
Schroder, who said there was too much mystery surrounding the award of the original licenses, doesn’t know why the act required two casinos be located in Philadelphia. He said he’s got strong support for his proposal.
State Rep. Mike O’Brien, a Democrat, is on board. He represents the area where Philadelphia’s Sugarhouse Casino is located. O’Brien said the Philadelphia slots parlor did not turn into the cash cow some had expected.
“I believe that with the poor performance of Sugarhouse that the revenue is far below the anticipated level. It clearly indicates that the Philadelphia market is saturated. Let’s put this out to bid statewide and let’s generate some revenue.”
The gaming revenue is directed toward property-tax reductions statewide, and wage-tax reductions in the city.
An attorney for Foxwoods casino says it could appeal the decision, which could tie up any new casino project for years.