Decision on Foxwoods’ license could be made Wednesday

The fate of Foxwoods Casino’s license could be decided at Wednesday’s Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board meeting.

The top attorney for the board’s enforcement division asked the PGCB in April to revoke Foxwoods’ license for what he sees as an inability to open a slots casino on time and failure to meet intermediate deadlines.

At PGCB Chief Enforcement Counsel Cyrus Pitre’s request, board members will convene at 10 a.m. Wednesday to determine whether they need a full hearing to decide whether Foxwoods should keep its license, or if they should bypass a hearing and instead make the decision based on the many documents filed or otherwise provided by Foxwoods since April – the majority of which have been deemed confidential and not released to the public or press.

Short summaries of documents filed related to this case are posted on the gaming board’s website. The filings from October that the PGCB was willing to release are attached at the bottom of this story. In one of them Foxwoods asks that any hearing to revoke their license be kept confidential. In another, Foxwoods asks that any documents related to a summary judgment be kept confidential. A third document is also a request for confidentiality. The last document is an order from the PGCB’s office of hearings and appeals, establishing Wednesday’s summary judgement hearing.

If the board decides it can make a decision with the information at hand, it could go ahead to rule on Foxwoods’ license Wednesday, said PGCB spokesman Doug Harbach.

The board could also decide to use the existing information to make a decision at a later date, Harbach said. Or, it could rule that a full hearing is necessary and go on to schedule that proceeding for a later time.

Pitre made the recommendation that the board yank Foxwoods’ license after casino mogul Steve Wynn pulled out of a deal to become a lead investor and operator of the casino.

Board members have said that it is clear to them that Foxwoods can’t survive without such an investor. But in the months since Wynn left, Foxwoods  has been negotiating with Harrah’s. While neither side is saying anything on the record, The Inquirer reports that a deal is close at hand.

Dan Hajdo, a spokesman for Casino-Free Philadelphia, thinks the board should act Wednesday. “We think they should revoke the license and put an end to these shenanigans now,” he said. “This license should have been revoked a long time ago.”

Paul Boni, a Philadelphia attorney who has represented anti-casino groups, said that when judicial bodies weigh whether summary judgment is possible, they consider whether there are any facts that go to the heart of the case that are in dispute.

If no central facts are in dispute, the court – or, in this case, PGCB – may decide that it can determine how the law applies to the facts without having a hearing, Boni said.

If, on the other hand, the judicial body determines there is a legitimate dispute about the facts of a case, a hearing is held, Boni said.  Sometimes, he said, a court may decide that some facts are in dispute, and have a limited hearing.

If the PGCB decides to revoke Foxwoods’ license, Foxwoods may appeal through the courts. “We believe an appeal of a revocation would more than likely go to Commonwealth Court, though there may be other opinions out there,” Harbach said in an email.

Reach the reporter at KGates@PlanPhilly.com.

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