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Harrah's Moves To Take Over Foxwoods Project in South Philly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Harrah's has signed on the dotted line, and is now ready to step in to salvage the long-delayed Foxwoods slots parlor project slated for South Philadelphia.

The local investors, who control the project, announced Tuesday morning that they have reached agreement with Harrah's in which the casino firm will become both a minority investor and manager of the project.

The investors' attorney, F. Warren Jacoby, was gratified to have what's called a "term sheet" signed by Harrah's:

"We feel pleased (and) vindicated."

Harrah's involvement is subject to the approval of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

In a statement, Harrah's stressed that the term sheet is non-binding:

"This agreement in principle is contingent upon several conditions, including, but not limited to: the receipt of required regulatory approvals, the execution of definitive documents, and financing," the statement said.

Separately, it remains to be seen how this development will affect that license revocation proceeding against Foxwoods, if at all. The staff of the gaming control board petitioned to revoke Foxwoods' license in April, and a board spokesman says a previously scheduled hearing in that process is still on for Wednesday, October 27.

Jacoby hopes the board allows the project to move forward:

"We're pleased and satisfied, and hope this result will cause the board to reconsider its complaint and to allow this deal to be consummated."

He says the proximity of another Harrah's gambling facility, in Chester, Pa., is not an issue for regulators, although under state law Harrah's would have to be a minority investor in Foxwoods.

The SugarHouse casino opened on North Delaware Avenue last month, but the Foxwoods project has yet to put shovel into ground. First, the investors looked into relocating to Center City. Then, the original group expected to manage the project -- the Mashantucket tribe -- got into financial difficulties, which prompted the local investors to seek the help of casino mogul Steve Wynn.

Wynn abruptly pulled out last spring, and that led to negotiations with Harrah's.

The investors say if the gaming control board approves the new investor, they hope to open the slots parlor in 2012.

Philadelphia City Councilman Frank DiCicco, whose 1st District includes the Foxwoods site, remains opposed to the project because of traffic issues and hopes that the gaming control board ultimately rejects Harrah's involvement:

"It's the worst possible site for the casino. I'm just totally confused as to how the gaming board will be able to justify giving the green light to this project when they have been in revocation proceedings for several months now, because the deal never went through in a timely manner."

Reported by Mike Dunn and Tony Romeo, KYW Newsradio.

File photo

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