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Gaming In Philly

December 20, 2006

from, with my comments spread throughout, in bold

Ruling May Make Philly A Gambling Mecca

Pennsylvania gambling regulators on Wednesday cleared the way for Philadelphia to become the nation’s largest city with a casino, while rejecting Donald Trump’s bid for a slot-machine parlor.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board chose from among 13 groups of casino giants, politically connected SURPISE!!! SHOCK!!! AMAZEMENT!!!!investors, celebrities and nationally known developers when it awarded five licenses for standalone slots parlors.

Winners include groups led by billionaire Chicago-based developer Neil G. Bluhm and the Connecticut-based Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, each of which plan to build on Philadelphia’s riverfront.

SugarHouse Casino and Foxwoods Casino will be the two slots parlors in the Philadelphia area.

Foxwoods will be built on Columbus Avenue, between Tasker Avenue and Reed Street. SugarHouse will be built on Delaware Avenue, between Ellen Street and Shackamaxon Street.

Detroit-based casino developer Don H. Barden won the single license up for grabs in Pittsburgh, where he plans to build in the city’s stadium district.

Northeastern Pennsylvania businessman Louis A. DeNaples won a license for the now-shuttered Mount Airy Lodge in the Pocono Mountains that he plans to reopen next year.

And a group led by Las Vegas-based casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. won a license to build at the rusting flagship factory of the defunct Bethlehem Steel Corp.

The gaming board rejected an application by Trump’s Atlantic City, N.J.-based casino company for a casino in northwest Philadelphia. AMEN!!! HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!!! NO TRUMP!!!!!!!!!

All told, the board awarded 11 permanent slots licenses Wednesday, each allowing as many as 5,000 machines. The other six licenses were earmarked for the state’s horse-racing tracks, which already received conditional licenses earlier this year.

So far, two racetracks – Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and Philadelphia Park – already have opened slots parlors, while racetracks in Chester (just what Chester needs – a slots parlor!)and near Erie are expected to open slots parlors in the next two months.

The huge expansion into slot machines could make Pennsylvania one of the highest grossing commercial gambling states in the nation, if (that’s a very big IF)the state’s projections for $3 billion in slots revenue comes true.

The gaming board would not discuss the reasons behind its choices (again: SHOCK! SURPRISE! AMAZEMENT!), saying those would be made clear in a document to be issued in the coming days. The board’s chairman, Tad Decker, said the members needed several hours Tuesday night to reach unanimous decisions after months of analyzing the projects.

The board’s decisions Wednesday helped two Indian tribes, the Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots, open their first casinos that are not on tribal land in Connecticut, the first of what could be many for both tribes.

It also rewarded two Philadelphia groups that were stacked with politically connected (for the umpteenth time: SHOCK! SURPRISE! AMAZEMENT!) investors.

For instance, Bluhm’s group included former state Supreme Court Justice William Lamb and lawyer Richard Sprague, who represents one of the primary architects of the slots law, state Sen. Vincent J. Fumo of Philadelphia.

The other Philadelphia winner, the group led by Mashantucket Pequots, includes several longtime supporters of Rendell, including Philadelphia 76ers chairman Ed Snider, who have pledged their profits to charity.

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