City could lose casino license

Posted: May 02, 2012

The license that was revoked for the ill-starred Foxwoods Casino project in South Philadelphia could soon be up for grabs - with bidding starting at $65 million.

Pennsylvania legislators in the House are poised to approve legislation as early as Tuesday to hold a statewide auction for the coveted license. The minimum bid, according to the legislation, would be $65 million, and the state Gaming Control Board would have the ultimate say over where, and to whom, the new casino should go.

"This would let the free market determine what price we would get for the casino," said state Rep. Curt Schroder, a Republican from Chester, the bill's sponsor. "It would also allow the market to guide the Gaming Board as to where the license should go."

Some Philadelphia legislators on Monday tried to amend the legislation to give Philadelphia first crack at bidding before opening the auction statewide. They argued that the gaming law that the Legislature passed in 2004 required two licenses be granted in the city, and that the law's original intent should remain intact. The law directs a portion of slot-machine proceeds to property-tax relief statewide, and to wage-tax relief in Philadelphia.

"The citizens of Philadelphia were promised two casinos, and the state should live up to that promise," said state Rep. Rosita Youngblood, D-Philadelphia.

The amendment was swiftly defeated, however, with its opponents countering that Philadelphia would not be shut out of the process and would still have the chance to put its best bid forward in a statewide auction.

If the bill passes the House - and the odds looked good Monday - it would be sent to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future.

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