A Harrah’s spokeswoman said Harrah’s and Philadelphia Entertainment Development Partners – aka Foxwoods Casino – filed documents with the state gaming board today.
Today was the deadline set by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for the would-be partners to turn in financing and partnership documents, and failing to do so would jeapordize PEDP’s license.
“We did make a submission today with the PGCB,” Harrah’s spokeswoman Jacqueline Peterson said in an email. “Out of respect for the Board and this process, we want to provide the Board the first opportunity to review these materials and therefore we won’t discuss the details of this submission prior to the December 16th hearing.”
Today’s deadline was set at last month’s gaming control board meeting. Board member Gary Sojka made a motion to strip PEDP of its gaming license. But that motion was tabled, and the board instead approved a second motion from board member Kenneth McCabe that tabled Sojka’s motion until Thursday’s board meeting in Harrisburg and required the aspiring partners to get the documents in by today. The stance the board seemed to be taking was get the papers in by the 10th, or lose your license on the 16th.
Reached by phone this morning, PEDP attorney Fred Jacoby said he expected the deadline would be met, but he was uncertain if he would be able to comment on the filing. Harrah’s attorney Bill Downey referred questions to Peterson.
Gaming Control Board spokesman Doug Harbach said yesterday that he would not be able to comment on whether or not the documents were received.
Foxwoods and Harrah’s had originally hoped to get the documents filed by the last gaming board meeting, Jacoby and Harrah’s attorney Bill Downey told board members. They said last month that the agreements were close, and that they just needed a little more time.
The Office of Enforcement Counsel – basically the attorney’s for the gaming board’s enforcement arm – are standing behind their petition to revoke the casino’s license. At the last board meeting, Chief Enforcement Counsel Cyrus Pitre and Deputy Enforcement Counsel Dale Miller said PEDP has already had more than enough time to open a casino in South Philadelphia, and the proof that it can’t rests in the fact that construction has not even begun at Columbus Boulevard and Reed Street.
But Jacoby and Downey argued that a casino would open much more quickly in the hands of their clients than if the board takes away the license, a process that would likely linger on through court appeals and then through the process of vetting other applicants. Pitre has said in the past that it could take years to revoke a license, go through the appeals, vet new applicants, chose one, and get a casino open.
But Pitre said after last month’s meeting a casino won’t open quickly if PEDP keeps its license, either. In addition to the documents due today, PEDP and Harrah’s must also file a petition for change of ownership and control, for approval to modify the building from the plans the board originally approved (drawings given to the board last week showed some changes, including a name change from Foxwoods to Horseshoe, a brand that Harrah’s uses at some of its other properties), for approval of financing and for an extension of the deadline by which the casino must open.
Before the board can approve any change to the physical plan, it must hold a public hearing in Philadelphia, as was done for SugarHouse Casino, which opened in Fishtown earlier this year.
Going through a similar process with Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh took about five months, Pitre said after the last meeting.
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