All six potential suitors filed local impact reports with the city last week, to allow Philadelphia officials to begin assessing their plans separately. Those filings do not necessarily mean the entities will file actual applications with the state gaming board.
The Goldenberg Group, co-owner of a parcel at Eighth and Market Streets, has been actively seeking an operator and investment partners.
"We can confirm that the Goldenberg Group is still exploring the possibility of a casino on the current parking lot between Eighth and Ninth Streets on Market," said Kim Hallman, a spokeswoman for the company. "But at this point, as the application deadline approaches, we're not able to offer comment on any specific detail."
Sources said Ira Lubert, the real estate investment manager who opened the Valley Forge Resort Casino this year, is aligned with Goldenberg. But under the state's gaming law, Lubert would not be allowed to own more than a third of the project because he already has a majority stake in Valley Forge.
Also in Center City, the Parkway Corp., which operates parking facilities across the city, is interested in making a pitch for a license.
"We're working hard to put together all the pieces," said Robert Zuritsky, Parkway's president. He would not identify which sites, but sources said the company has focused on property near the Convention Center.
Of the publicly released proposals, one is in Center City, two in South Philadelphia near the sports stadiums, and one on the waterfront in Fishtown.
Each would raise questions about the impact on surrounding communities that will have to be addressed by the state Gaming Control Board at public hearings.
"It's critically important that the gaming board hears from the public, particularly from those who live in areas that are affected," said Kenneth Trujillo, a Philadelphia lawyer who recently finished his tenure as a commissioner on the gaming board.
Once the applications are submitted to the gaming board, it will schedule hearings and begin poring through thousands of pages of project information.
The gaming board will assess the suitability of each proposal, looking at finances, sites, the backgrounds of casino operators and investors, and the impact on neighborhoods.
For a project to win a license, five of the seven commissioners must approve it. For that reason, it is conceivable that no project receives the necessary votes. "There is no requirement that this license even be granted," Trujillo said.
This is the second time around for the gaming board to entertain applications for a Philadelphia license. In the first go-round in 2005, five groups applied for two licenses. The SugarHouse group needed two vans to transport its voluminous application to Harrisburg in 2005. It won one of the licenses and opened a casino in September 2010 on North Delaware Avenue, on a 22-acre site that is partly in Fishtown and partly in Northern Liberties.
Investors in the Foxwoods Casino got the second license, but the gaming board revoked it in 2011 after repeated delays.
While the 2004 gaming law reserved two licenses for Philadelphia, legislators debated whether the city needed a second one. The gaming board decided in June to award the license and set a deadline of Nov. 15.
Brian McGill, a gaming analyst for Janney Capital Markets in Philadelphia, thinks the city can handle another casino. He said Parx Casino in Bensalem and Harrah's Philadelphia in Chester draw from the suburbs.
He said a Center City location could draw out-of-town visitors and conventioneers, as well as people who live downtown and might not want to venture to SugarHouse on the waterfront.
Blatstein's site is three blocks from the Convention Center and incorporates the former offices of The Inquirer and Daily News at 400 N. Broad St. His project, called The Provence, features a hotel, rooftop retailing and restaurants, and theaters.
In the stadium district, Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment Inc. has teamed up with Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. to propose building a casino and hotel at the Holiday Inn at 900 Packer Ave. in the stadium district.
Greenwood Gaming owns Parx in Bensalem, and Cordish co-owns Xfinity Live! at the Stadium Complex with Comcast-Spectacor.
Penn National Gaming Inc. of Wyomissing, Pa., submitted a local impact statement to the city Friday for a property at 700 Packer Ave., the only public indication of its plans.
The company owns or operates 28 gaming facilities in 18 states, including Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, and one in Ontario. It owns Hollywood Casino in Grantville, Pa., which means the company can have up to a third stake in its proposed Hollywood Casino Philadelphia.
The site is the South Philadelphia Turf Club at the Stadium Complex, which sits close to the Greenwood/Cordish Holiday Inn site. A spokesman for Penn Gaming could not be reached Friday night.
Steve Wynn on Thursday announced that he wanted to return to Philadelphia with a casino project. In 2010, Wynn Resorts agreed to help salvage the Foxwoods project with the blessing of regulators in Harrisburg. But he abruptly pulled out of the deal.
McGill said gaming commissioners may still be smarting from that. "That would be a little concerning," McGill said. "Is he going to follow through with this or will he get annoyed with the process and back out?"
One idea, which can still only be classified as an idea, comes from U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, who is floating a novel concept for a city-owned casino on city-owned land at the base of the Walt Whitman Bridge. Here's the problem - Mayor Nutter does not support the idea and no casino operator or developer has committed to such a deal.
As the deadline nears, opponents of casinos are regrouping.
Casino-Free Philadelphia is holding a strategy meeting this Monday night at Arch Street Methodist Church in Center City. In a statement this week, the anti-gaming group, which has mounted effective resistance, especially to the Foxwoods project, said: "A casino is a casino is a casino. The business model is the same: profit from local residents who are suffering from gambling addiction."
Meanwhile, in the Spring Garden area, where Blatstein is proposing his project, a coalition of schools, religious institutions, and neighborhood groups is coming together. Kevin Greenberg, a lawyer who lives in Fairmount and is behind the organizing effort, said the intent is not to debate whether the city needs a second casino. Rather, it's to articulate the concerns of the surrounding community.
"We want to see what is proposed, what the impact will be, and how we can work with the city and developers to address the important concerns that communities have," Greenberg said.
Contact Jennifer Lin at 215-854-5659 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @j_linq.
Staff writer Suzette Parmley contributed to this article.