By Tim Jimenez
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The deadline passed Thursday evening to file an application for Philadelphia’s second casino license. One of the proposals comes from a gaming company based near Reading and, according to Philadelphia-based U.S. congressman Bob Brady (D-Pa.), it is a great bet for the city.
“We’re off to the casino races,” Brady said when details of the $480 million proposal from Penn National Gaming became official.
The project is called “Hollywood Casino Philadelphia” which would be built at either 700 Packer Avenue or 300 Packer Avenue, the former site of the Food Distribution Center in South Philadelphia.
Eric Schippers, senior VP of public affairs for the company, says they will fully finance the project but only retain one-third of the casino’s ownership because they already own one in Central Pennsylvania.
“In the state you are restricted to own no more than one casino and one-third of another. So, we’ve set up our proposal so that Penn National will retain one-third of the equity of the casino in Philadelphia but two-thirds would be structured to be owned by a non-profit and return the economics to the benefit of the community.”
This new entity that would be set up by Penn National, and assume ownership of two-thirds of the casino, would benefit the financially strapped School District of Philadelphia and help fund the city’s pension fund according to Schippers, Brady and State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams.
“Congressman Brady, a few weeks ago, had an idea similar to the one that is being floated in Chicago and that is to actually have a municipally-run casino and generate a lot more to the bottom line of the needs of the city. That sort of resulted in a sort of hybrid concept,” Williams said.
Since Penn National proposes to fully fund the project, Brady said they would not have to go to the voters in May to approve the borrowing of millions of dollars.
“We will not need a referendum, no bond issue, we don’t need any money. “(Penn National) would take one-thirds of the profit and give the city two-thirds of the profit which could be $40 million, up to $100 million a year,” Brady said. “I’m happy. If we could help these kids and help these pensioners, why not? Why not do this? It’s a no-brainer. It’s a slam dunk to me.”
A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board says they plan on releasing the list of applicants for Philadelphia’s second casino license on Friday.