Nutter hopes to derail plans in Harrisburg to scrap Philly casino license

Mayor Nutter said Tuesday he’ll do everything he can to convince the Pennsylvania legislature not to yank an unused casino license from Philadelphia.

A bill sponsored by Central Pa. State Rep. Curt Schroder would take that license from the city and award it in a statewide auction.

Two licenses were awarded to Philadelphia projects in 2006. One, Sugarhouse is now open. The other, the proposed Foxwoods casino on the Delaware waterfront, eventually collapsed after its principals were unable to secure financing and overcome neighborhood opposition.

Developers and realtors are exploring at least three potential sites for a casino in center city, but nobody can build one unless they get the unused license originally granted to Foxwoods.

A bill making headway in the legislature calls for auctioning that license statewide, so it might end up anywhere in the commonwealth. That’s caused the state board that regulates gaming to hold off on awarding the unused license, which under current law must go to a Philadelphia project.

Mayor Nutter says the city is ready for a new casino.

“It seems to me that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board should use the authority that they have to reissue that license to anyone who is legitimately able to apply for that license, right here in Philadelphia,” Nutter said.

Nutter has spent plenty of time in Harrisburg cultivating relationships. He’ll have to try and convince Republican leaders that Philadelphia deserves a second chance after the collapse of the Foxwoods project, and that a second casino here won’t take business from gaming halls open in Chester and Valley Forge.

Chances appear good that the Schroder bill will be approved by the state house. It’s unclear what may happen when it goes to the state senate.

A key figure is Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi of Delaware County, who has expressed skepticism about putting another casino in Philadelphia.

Tom MacDonald contributed to this report.

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