Pennsylvania Board Sets Hearing on Philly Casino
On Monday, July 31, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will hear additional evidence on the ownership of the partnership awarded the second casino license for the city of Philadelphia.
The hearing is in compliance with the recent decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court directing the board to re-examine the ownership of Stadium Casino LLC, the partnership of Baltimore-based Cordish Companies and Greenwood Gaming, which also owns the Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.
Under the court decision, the board will scrutinize the ownership stake in Stadium Casino’s Stadium Live! project of Stadium principal Watche Manoukian, who owns 85.84 percent of Parx Casino. Under Pennsylvania’s gaming law, the principal owner of a current casino cannot own more than 33.3 percent in a second casino in the state.
The board will hear evidence in the matter beginning at 2 p.m. July 31. The hearing will be streamed live on the board’s website, gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov.
The license for the city’s second and last casino was awarded for a casino in the city’s sports stadium district, carrying the Cordish “Live!” brand. An existing Holiday Inn will be refurbished to create a boutique hotel connected to the casino.
The award of the license—as has every other casino license in Pennsylvania—was appealed by one of the losing bidders, in this case, Market East Associates, to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The appeal was joined by SugarHouse Casino, the current Philadelphia casino, which has opposed any second casino in the city.
The basis of the appeal in this case was the 33.3 percent rule, and this is the second time the board is re-examining the issue with respect to Manoukian. In the initial license and in the first examination of the appeal, the board found Manoukian to be within the legal ownership limits.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania state Rep. Scott Petri, chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, has filed a bill to eliminate the 33.3 percent rule, with the goal of expediting disposition of the Stadium appeal and opening the second Philadelphia casino.
With 12 casinos operating, no award of a casino license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has ever been overturned on appeal from losing bidders.