As has been the case with each of the 13 casino licenses approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, a losing bidder has exercised the right provided in the state’s gaming law to appeal the board’s latest decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The one difference in the case of the board’s recent decision to award the second casino license for Philadelphia to Live! Hotel and Casino, a joint venture of Cordish Companies and Greenwood Racing, is that one of the currently licensed casinos is joining in the appeal. SugarHouse, the current Philadelphia casino, has joined Bart Blatstein’s Tower Entertainment, which submitted a bid to create the Provence casino resort at the site of the former Philadelphia Inquirer building, in appealing the board’s decision to award the second city license to Live!
SugarHouse executives were very vocal during the fall licensing hearings and in the weeks leading to the board’s decision in urging the board to delay the awarding of the second casino license for Philadelphia, saying the gaming market in the Philadelphia region is already oversaturated. Blatstein, the local developer whose Provence project was planned as a multi-use entertainment and gaming development over several blocks in the north Center City district, criticized the board’s decision on Live!, calling it just another “box with slots” that would do nothing more than cannibalize other casinos.
The state Supreme Court has never overturned a decision of the Gaming Control Board. The board has defended the decision on Live! as having the best revenue potential, since it is adjacent to the city’s sports complex in the district that includes the stadiums of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles and the Major League Phillies, and the arena of the NHL’s Flyers. Board members have pointed to the hundreds of sports events every year that will draw foot traffic to the casino.