Suitable Location Crucial for Second License in Philadelphia

April 12, 2010—–State Senator Lawrence Farnese today called for radical change in the casino licensing process in light of last week’s collapse of the proposed Steve Wynn/Foxwoods agreement.

“We need to have a process that is going to produce a suitable location to build a casino,” said Farnese, noting that the Foxwoods site is simply too small for a full-featured casino. “After four years, we have little more than some concept drawings of what a casino might look like. Steve Wynn was the last hope for actually getting something built, and even he couldn’t get it done at this location,” said Farnese.

Farnese said the best way to get the city’s second casino up and running would be to have an operator choose from a number of suitable locations selected by the city through a planning process with public input. A city gaming advisory task force prepared a preliminary report on possible locations in 2004, but the report had no impact under the state’s gaming law.

Farnese said that a key flaw in the original gaming act was bundling the selection of the casino operator and casino location into one application. “We need to have a process that selects the best operator first, then allows the best site to be chosen,” Farnese said. “Casino operators in New Jersey are chosen in a similar way.”

Farnese said a change in the process would be especially important if the Gaming Board revokes Foxwoods’ license at its meeting later this month. “If the current Foxwoods license is put out to bid again, we should not pass up the opportunity for a fresh start with a new process,” said Farnese.

Farnese said Harrisburg should not rule out any possibilities, such as the state taking over the license and contracting with a private operator, a process recently enacted in Kansas.

“Clearly, we need to start thinking outside the box”

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