Foxwoods says it will meet PGCB deadline

Sept. 29

By Kellie Patrick Gates
For PlanPhilly

Foxwoods Casino officials say they will make their first Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board deadline later this week.

By Thursday, Oct. 1, Foxwoods must submit three reports to the PGCB’s Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement.

Casino officials must not only describe their efforts to develop a Columbus Boulevard facility with at least 1,500 slot machines, but detail their efforts and progress toward financing that casino. Foxwoods must also submit a list of all outstanding licenses, certifications and permits they need from federal, state, county, local and other agencies, and provide a progress report on the status of each of them.

“We’re going to comply with every responsibility we have with the Gaming Control Board,” Foxwoods spokeswoman Maureen Garrity said after talking to Brian Ford, CEO of Foxwoods’ local team of investors. Garrity said Ford wasn’t willing to “pre-empt” Foxwood’s submission to the board by discussing it with anyone from the media ahead of time.

Richard McGarvey, a spokesman for the PGCB, said the board is paying attention to the deadline – the first of a series of deadlines and conditions that body tied to the two-year license extension it granted Foxwoods in August.

“If they should miss filing a report our Chief Enforcement Council would then have to decide if some enforcement action should be taken against Foxwoods and make a recommendation to the seven- member board for their consideration,” McGarvey said in an email.

McGarvey said the range of potential enforcement actions depends on what Foxwoods submits, “so I can not speculate on the possibility of what might take place, if needed.”

Last month, another Gaming Control Board spokesman, Doug Harbach, said the PBCB’s focus was on getting Foxwoods operating on time, and it was too early to suppose what, exactly, would happen if their license was revoked.

What is certain, he said, is that should any of the state’s slot licenses be rescinded, the board would re-issue the license through a public process.

The Gaming Control Board isn’t the only entity eager to see what Foxwoods plans to do. The City of Philadelphia has been waiting for input from Foxwoods for more than a year – ever since the casino agreed to move off the waterfront and onto Market Street. That plan never came, and now it never will – Foxwoods never formally requested a change in license venue from the PGCB, and in their extension-granting ruling, the board ordered them to build on the waterfront.

Now, the city wants to discuss what Foxwoods has in mind for an interim facility, to be open by May 29, 2011. “We just sent them a letter saying we’re here when you’re ready to talk,” Alan Greenberger, executive director of the city planning commission, said at a meeting last week.

City officials have never liked Foxwoods’ site at the corner of Columbus and Reed, with traffic being a chief concern. They were thrilled when Foxwoods said it would move to the former Strawbridge site, a location that is better served by public transportation and which they hoped would help boost the lagging Market East corridor. But, Greenberger said, “we can’t break the law.”  And the State Supreme Court has ordered the city to give Foxwoods permits for the South Philadelphia site.

But should Foxwoods fail to keep its license, Greenberger said, he hopes the Gaming Control Board “would talk to us about location.”

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