SugarHouse drops lawsuit holding up South Philly casino


cordish-live-casino-philadelphiaPhiladelphia’s long-delayed second casino is now clear to land after the city’s original casino operator dropped a lawsuit blocking the project.

On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that the owners of Philadelphia’s SugarHouse Casino had dropped their lawsuit that had been blocking construction of Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia, the Stadium Casino LLP project that was awarded the state’s 13th casino license nearly three years ago.

Stadium Casino LLP is a joint venture involving the Maryland-based Cordish Companies and Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment, which operates Pennsylvania’s market-leading Parx Casino in Bucks County.

Trouble is, Parx is majority owned by Watche Manoukian, and Pennsylvania law doesn’t permit majority casino owners to hold more than a one-third stake in a different gaming venue. SugarHouse seized on this issue and its legal challenges to the legitimacy of the casino license have blocked Stadium Casino LLP from putting shovels to dirt.

The issue has bounced back and forth between state courts and gaming regulators, with the state Supreme Court having most recently volleyed the issue back to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (GCB) in June.

But the sweeping gambling expansion legislation signed Monday by Gov. Tom Wolf included a section that repealed the ownership limitations. On Wednesday, the GCB said it considers the matter closed and that Stadium Casino LLP would pay its $50m license fee by November 2015, with construction to commence shortly thereafter.

Official PR on the South Philly casino project indicates that it would carry a $600m price tag and feature a gaming floor boasting 2k slot machines and 125 gaming tables, along with an “upscale” 200+ room boutique hotel, restaurants and live entertainment venues.

The casino’s belated approval could cause Pennsylvania legislators to amend the number of online gambling licenses currently called for under the state’s new law. The law allows for 12 licenses for each of the three online verticals – slots, poker, other casino table games – but the clear intent was to give each casino operator a shot at taking their action online, so expect amendments when the South Philly venue comes close to launching.