No Dice: Officials Put Steve Wynn's Philadelphia Casino Plan on Hold

Last Updated Mar 4, 2010 1:52 PM EST

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board decided not to pull the license of the troubled Foxwoods Philadelphia casino but wouldn't hand it over to Wynn Resorts chief executive Steve Wynn, despite promises of $250 million investment, until they could look at his plans for the $600 million venue. Wynn had hoped his proposal would be a sure thing, but it's now riddled with suspicious officials and protestors.
"I have very grave concerns about whether a change of control ... will ever occur," board member Ken Trujillo said during the four-hour board meeting.

The information the board received from Wynn was "interesting, but completely lacking and certainly not the clear and convincing evidence this board needs," Trujillo added.

Protesters also came to show their displeasure with the project.
As the two-hour hearing began, though, protesters interrupted Wynn every time he tried to speak. He ignored their taunts as police escorted them from the room.

Andrea Preis, an activist from Queen Village, shouted, "We don't want you in our city." After she was taken away, he quipped, "Usually, it takes people a few days after they meet me not to like me."

Wynn told reporters that he would try to get a license as a casino operator next week. He also said that if the board revokes the project's license he will try to get one under the Wynn Resorts umbrella.

The gaming board is fining the project $2,000 a day for failing to have a design or plan for the casino. So far the project has paid $186,000 since it failed to meet a December deadline.

For Wynn's $250 million investment, under the agreement with Foxwoods Philadelphia's other partners, Wynn would receive a 51 percent controlling interest in the project. The remaining 49 percent would be divided among 12 other investors, including the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, which also own Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. The tribe will still have a 14 percent stake in the project.

BNET already reported that the Philadelphia casino would extend the Wynn name to the mid-Atlantic region, where casinos are growing and proving popular. Recently, Pennsylvania approved table games to add to its existing slot machine parlors, creating more full-fledged casinos. Already Pennsylvania slot machine revenue has surpassed Atlantic City's slot earnings.

I think Wynn, who lost the original Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut a decade ago, will not let this one get away. Known for his elaborate and luxurious properties, Wynn is probably surprised that the gaming board and Philadelphia's citizenry isn't welcoming him with open arms (although workers and unions are). But after years of promises, the gaming board and city wants to see something more concrete. Wynn should be able to give it to them.

Image: Wynn Resorts