Developers vying for casino license in Philly undeterred by Atlantic City downturn

 Despite the Showboat Casino and Hotel plan to close at the end of August due to what some analysts say is market saturation, four developers are still eager to build a casino in Philadelphia. (AP file photo/Wayne Parry)

Despite the Showboat Casino and Hotel plan to close at the end of August due to what some analysts say is market saturation, four developers are still eager to build a casino in Philadelphia. (AP file photo/Wayne Parry)

When the Showboat Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City announced plans to close last week, analysts chalked it up to a saturated gaming market.

And Penn National, one of the applicants for a casino license in Philadelphia, has withdrawn its bid, citing, among other factors, signs of market saturation in the region.

 

But others vying to build a second casino in the city say they’re not having second thoughts.

Everyone agrees that the growing number of gambling options in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York State have taken a bite out of Atlantic City.

However, A. Bruce Crawley, spokesman for PHL Local Gaming, which has proposed a project called Casino Revolution, said the fate of Atlantic City, which once had a monopoly on East Coast gaming, does not predict the fortunes of a casino in the middle of a city of 1.5 million people.

“The industry is not focused on destinations as much as it is focused on convenience,” Crawley said. Revenues have also been down in the first half of the year at the Parx Casino in Bucks County and at SugarHouse in the city. Crawley blamed that on the weather.

Last week, Casino Revolution actually expanded its proposal, adding plans for a 615-foot tower that will resemble Seattle’s space needle.

Bart Blatstein, the developer planning “The Provence” for North Broad Street argues that the chances are improving for casino-resorts that offer more amenities, such as his own proposed design.

“I don’t venture into any of the casinos in the region here because, unless you’re a strict gambler, there’s no reason to go. There are no amenities. I don’t know anyone who goes to a casino in the region.”

Revel, the latest resort-hotel in Atlantic City, is up for auction on Aug. 6.

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