Foxwoods Philadelphia, the troubled casino project on Philadelphia’s waterfront that has teetered on the edge of losing its license after missing financing deadlines, is set to get a new leader: casino mogul Stephen Wynn (left).
Wynn Resorts, the publicly traded operator that runs the Wynn and Encore resorts in Las Vegas and Wynn Macau, announced that the company has signed a letter of intent with Philadelphia Entertainment and Development Partners LP under which an affiliate of Wynn would become manager and managing general
partner of the South Philadelphia project.
Connecticut’s Mashantucket Pequot tribe, owner of the original Foxwoods resort, had been the lead investor and was set to manage the casino. Should the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approve the deal, Wynn Resorts would take over as manager of the casino. Wynn would also take over as majority owner, purchasing shares from each of the partners.
That takeover is by no means certain. After a presentation by Wynn of his plan, some members of the gaming board remained skeptical.
Wynn told the regulators he would finance the casino with $250 million of his own money, and would borrow the rest through banks he has used in the past. He is proposing a $600 million casino, and said he has retained the Keating Group, which is building the other Philadelphia casino, SugarHouse, as his construction contractor. He also said he will study infrastructure improvements such as adding lanes to two streets to ease traffic flow.
Gaming board members, though, were not ready to anoint Wynn as the savior of Foxwoods Philadelphia. For one, some members object to Wynn’s timeline-the operator testified he would need an extension until December 2012 to open the casino. The board already gave Foxwoods a deadline of May 2011 to open at least a temporary facility. (Wynn told the board, “We don’t do temporaries.”)
Some board members also expressed skepticism at Wynn’s overall plan. Board member Ken Trujillo called the plan “interesting, but completely lacking and certainly not the clear and convincing evidence this board needs.”
The board also kept ongoing fines in place for the project, which has already paid $186,000 for missing financing deadlines and is being charged an additional $2,000 a day until financing and construction plans are submitted.