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New Bill In Pennsylvania Would Clear Way For Second Casino In Philadelphia

Proposal Could Be Added To Omnibus Gambling Expansion Package


As Pennsylvania lawmakers wrestle with whether or not to allow online casino gambling and gaming machines in establishments such as bars and restaurants, a separate measure introduced late last month would end a longstanding legal battle over a planned second casino in Philadelphia.

In June the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said that regulators need to continue reviewing the legality of the ownership structure for the proposed Live! Hotel & Casino in South Philadelphia.

State law puts restrictions on ownership stakes in multiple casinos. The state Supreme Court said the Gaming Control Board must figure out whether Watche “Bob” Manoukian, who owns roughly 85 percent of nearby Parx Casino, would be owning more than a third of Live!

The allegation was that Manoukian tried to hide his real ownership stake in the project.

However, under the measure proposed by Republican State Rep. Scott Petri, that rule would be lifted, according to a report from State gaming regulators reportedly support the plan to change the law to move the project forward.

Live!, which has been held up for a handful of years, would be Pennsylvania’s 13th casino and the fifth in relative close proximity to Philadelphia. The $450 million casino is expected to generate about $300 million annually in gaming revenue, which would add about 10 percent to the state’s casino gaming market, assuming there isn’t cannibalization.

The Live! casino complex would have two-million square feet of gaming floor space, with 2,000 slots and more than 100 table games.

The state’s casinos won an all-time high $3.2 billion from gamblers last year, but that’s only 1.7 percent more than what was won in 2012.

SugarHouse Casino, which is currently the only casino within city limits, is one of the groups behind the legal challenge to the Live! project.

According to Petri, the proposal to change the ownership rule could be added to the omnibus gambling expansion package that includes online poker regulation. That could be a good thing for online gaming because the issue with Live! needs to be sorted out as soon as possible. The state is missing out on some $75 million in licensing fees from Live!

Another component of the gambling expansion package is fixing a local share tax issue that would keep money flowing to Pennsylvania communities with a casino.

Furthermore, the package calls for daily fantasy sports regulation and allowing the state lottery to offer its products and services over the internet.

Tags: Pennsylvania,   Live,   Philly,   Philadelphia