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Applicants For Philadelphia’s Second Casino License Make Final Pitches

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A team from SugarHouse testifies about "extreme and unintended consequences" from a second casino license award. (credit: Pat Loeb/KYW)

A team from SugarHouse testifies about “extreme and unintended consequences” from a second casino license award. (credit: Pat Loeb/KYW)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Five would-be Philadelphia casino owners have now had their final say before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, and now the board must choose one.  Or none.

Today, on the last of three days of hearings for the city’s remaining casino license (see previous story), the fifth applicant, “Live!” Casino, made its final presentation for its proposed stadium-area project in South Philadelphia.

Drawing the short straw and being placed last among the presenters, the developer feared they might be facing what he called “presentation fatigue.”

The hearings have been focused on financing and revenue, traffic congestion and parking, even as each applicant tried to convince the Gaming Board they had the “wow factor” that would create new gamblers, not simply cannibalize the clientele in existing casinos.

But the final presentation of the day was reserved for Sugarhouse Casino, in Fishtown, which argues that the majority of the revenue from any new casino would come from them.  They’re asking the board not to award a second license.

SugarHouse General Manager Wendy Hamilton says she watched the five casino license applicants testify over the last three days with a growing sense of anger, as each predicted it would attract new gamblers that existing casinos hadn’t.

“This is absolutely, downright offensive, anyone who tells you they can generate even $100 million in new revenue in Philadelphia is living in Crazytown,” Hamilton said.

The casino’s chairman, Neil Bluhm, was so upset, he flew in from Chicago to testify that the market is saturated.

“If you add a casino to this market, you’re going to have several casinos in severe financial trouble,” Bluhm said.

Bluhm says erstwhile applicant Steve Wynn told him that’s why he pulled out of the competition. The Board has said it will take 60 days to decide who, if anyone, gets the license.

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