The construction of a hotel and casino complex in South Philadelphia has hit another snag after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (SC) ordered state regulators to take another look at Stadium LLC’s project.
In a unanimous vote, the seven-member High Tribunal pointed out that the state Gaming Control Board had failed to sufficiently examine whether the Philly casino project breached state rules limiting investor ownership in multiple casinos.
According to The Associated Press, this is the second time in 15 months that the SC tossed the issue back to the casino regulators. It further said that the ruling will also cause the Stadium project further delays.
The Gaming Control Board gave a brief comment saying that it “appreciates the work of the court in producing this decision and is reviewing to determine the next steps in this matter.”
“We do know that at this juncture, the court has determined that the license cannot be issued until the board proceeds on matters addressed in the ruling,“ the state regulator added.
Records showed that SugarHouse HSP Gaming L.P., operator of the SugarHouse casino, questioned the involvement of London-based businessman Watche Manoukian.
Manoukian reportedly owns 85.84 percent of the state’s Parx casino, and his ownership in a second casino in Philadelphia would be subject to legal limits. Under state law, a majority casino owner is limited to a one-third share in another casino.
But Manoukian delegated 33 percent of the proposed project’s profits to Greenwood Racing Inc., which owns the Parx Casino. Manoukian also created a trust for his three sons to hold a separate 17 percent stake.
Manoukian and his family members would hold all the ownership shares in the trust, while Manoukian pledged to contribute $34 million to the trust to be used as capital for the casino project.
Justice Debra Todd, who penned the 43-page opinion, found Manoukian’s strategy suspicious, saying that the combined elements “raised the question of whether the trust was being used by Manoukian to evade the requirements” of state law that limits one person’s casino ownership.