Penn National drops bid for Phila. casino

Karen Bailey, Vice President for Public Affairs at Penn National Gaming, talks about the Hollywood casino during day one of hearings before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board at the Convention Center. ( RON TARVER / Staff Photographer )
Karen Bailey, Vice President for Public Affairs at Penn National Gaming, talks about the Hollywood casino during day one of hearings before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board at the Convention Center. ( RON TARVER / Staff Photographer )
Posted: June 29, 2014

Penn National Gaming Inc. has dropped its bid to build a $480 million Hollywood casino in South Philadelphia, the Wyomissing, Pa., company said Friday.

"A contributing factor in our decision to withdraw our proposal was the City of Philadelphia's vocal support for a Center City casino location, despite the fact that two-thirds of the profits from our proposed casino were dedicated to the city's education and pension fund liabilities," said Timothy J. Wilmott, Penn National's president and chief executive.

The profits that Penn National would have shared with the city under its proposal, however, would have been calculated after substantial management and licensing fees were paid to Penn National.

The structure giving a nonprofit two-thirds ownership of the proposed casino's holding company - a structure designed primarily to get around casino ownership restrictions in the state's gaming law - was met with skepticism by Gaming Control Board members at a January hearing.

Penn National, which is building a $225 million slots parlor in Massachusetts and a $360 million casino near San Diego while pursuing a license in New York's Hudson Valley-Catskills region, also said the Philadelphia market was less attractive now than when the application process started in 2012.

Douglas Harbach, a spokesman for the Gaming Control Board, confirmed that the withdrawal filing for the proposal at 700 Packer Ave. had been received and that it would be reviewed by the board's Office of Enforcement Counsel.

Harbach also said that the board "is continuing its discussions relative to the issuance of the second license in Philadelphia."

At a hearing in September, Philadelphia economic-development officials expressed a preference for a downtown site.

"There's four good candidates left, and we're eagerly awaiting a board decision, hopefully this summer," Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger said Friday.

Remaining proposals in the competition are: Bart Blatstein's Provence at the former Inquirer Building on North Broad Street; Ken Goldenberg's Market8 at Eighth and Market Streets; Joe Procacci's Casino Revolution at Front Street and Packer Avenue; and Live! Philadelphia, a partnership between Cordish Cos. and Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment, at 900 Packer Ave.


hbrubaker@phillynews.com

215-854-4651

@InqBrubaker

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