Pennsylvania gaming authorities to leave state's last gaming license in Philadelphia

Pennsylvania gaming regulators have decided to reopen the bidding process for a casino in Philadelphia, rather than let the gaming license be moved to another location in the state.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is accepting applications for the license, one of two authorized for the city of Philadelphia when state gaming law was established in 2004.

In 2010, the control board revoked the license for a long-stalled project by Indian tribe that operates the Foxwoods casino in Connecticut.

The Pennsylvania Legislature then considered whether to open up the license to applications that would put the casino elsewhere in the state. But legislative movement did not move forward.

The control board sent a deadline for applications submission of Nov. 15. The control board chairman said process could take nine months to a year from the deadline until the board is in a position to consider all the applications.

Philadelphia has one casino, the SugarHouse, and Caesars Entertainment operates a racetrack casino in suburban Philadelphia. Prior to Foxwoods losing the license, Wynn Resorts Ltd. flirted with taking on the Philadelphia project, but backed away after a month.

The price tag for the Philadelphia license requires a $50 million one-time fee to operate a maximum of 5,000 slot machines and $16.5 million to operate up to 250 table games. The tax rate on slot machines is 55 percent and the tax on table games is 14 percent.

“We would also expect some of the major operators to take a look at locations in the city, such as MGM Resorts International, who has explored the market in the past and ultimately had site specific concerns,” Union Gaming Group Managing Director Bill Lerner said.

Lerner said Wynn Resorts might be interested in Philadelphia once again.