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Philly Casino Hopefuls Make Their Final Pitches To State Gaming Board

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The final round of hearings for Philadelphia’s second casino license began today.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is dissecting each of the five proposals during hearings at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

First up this morning was Pennsylvania Gaming Ventures, which has proposed a “Hollywood” casino for 700 Packer Avenue, in South Philadelphia.

Karen Bailey, PGV’s vice president for public affairs, says the group argued that its proposal was the closest the board would hear to a “sure thing.”

“The fact that we have the certainty of our financing, the fact that we are the most experienced developer and operator of casinos, the fact that we know this market, the fact that we have a national database that will immediately populate our gaming base here,” she said afterward.

The Gaming Control Board asked about finances, neighborhood traffic congestion, and what impact the casino would have on the existing ones.  Spokesman Doug Harbach says every applicant can expect the same questions.

“These are important questions for the board as they try to weigh not only the suitability of this applicant but weigh it against the other four as they choose a casino in Pennsylvania,” he said.

Next came Provence, proposed for the old Inquirer building, which projects the highest revenues and more new gamblers. But Provence also had to deal with neighborhood opponents, who argued its traffic and parking projections were inadequate.  Developer Bart Blatstein will get a chance to respond.

“We’re comfortable with our numbers, we’re comfortable with our plan,” Blatstein said.

The Board also will hear about a casino proposed for East Market Street and two more proposed for South Philadelphia, and from SugarHouse Casino, which wants no new competition.

Harbach says it is conceivable the board would elect not to license a second casino in Philadelphia.

He also says it could deadlock, since the license is awarded not by a simple majority of the seven-member board: the law requires all four legislative appointees, plus one of the governor’s appointees, to agree on who gets the license.

The hearings continue through Thursday.

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