Race heats up for Philly’s second casino license

TAGs: cordish group, goldenberg group, greenwood gaming, penn national gaming, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Harrahs-PhiladelphiaThe number of casinos in Pennsylvania, all 12 of them, is close to getting saturated, yet interest in the second casino license in Philadelphia remains high.

All in all, there are still five developers in the running for that license, a list that includes Penn National Gaming, the Goldenberg Group, Greenwood Gaming, the Cordish Cos. and PHL Local Gaming L.L.C.

Wynn Resorts was one of those initially interested but balked on its plan to seek the said license just last November, citing “business opportunities elsewhere” as the  main reason why it was packing its bags and jetting the hell out of the city.

But even without Wynn’s presence, the fight for that second license in the City of Brotherly Love is still expected to have its fair share of back-biting because, well, we don’t expect anything less when something as potentially lucrative as a casino license is involved, let alone one that will be built and developed in the state’s most densely populated city.

This week, in particular, is crucial for the five operators as they make their final pitches to state gambling regulators. If their initial impressions to the decision makers weren’t solid enough, this is their last chance to turn the tides in their favor. Nobody needs to be reminded that whoever does win that casino license stands to earn as much as hundreds of million of dollars in revenue from table games and slot machines.

Then again, that could still be a high estimate given that the city’s first casino, Harrah’s Philadelphia, earned just $77 million in revenue, the fourth highest total in 2013 next to Sands Bethlehem,  Greenwood Gaming’s Parx, and Sugarhouse, which earned $175 million, $119 million, and $85 million, respectively, in what has turned out to be a down year for casinos in the state.

Hitting that hundreds of million of dollars in revenue in its first year could be an impossible proposition given the competition that exists within the state, not to mention the worrisome decline in annual casino revenue last year. Those numbers could very well be a blip in the bigger scheme of things, but there’s also the rise of online gambling in New Jersey, which could curtail the state’s numbers.

But none of those are important for the five developers still vying for that second Philly casino. Now at this moment at least. For each of them, the important thing is winning and acquiring that license.

Whatever happens after that are issues for another day.


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