Park could be first in region to offer slots
Reported by Philly.com
the former home of Smarty Jones, is planning to spend $150 million
to set up a temporary slots parlor that could open for business
about 10 months after getting a conditional license early this
racetrack could become the first location in this region to
offer slots gambling.
gaming bill Gov. Rendell signed at Philadelphia
Park on July 5, the racetrack and three others are eligible
for 18-month conditional licenses. Three tracks in development
could also apply for licenses.
conditional licenses, the tracks could operate as "racinos"
until permanent licenses are issued to 14 facilities across
the state, including two gaming parlors in Philadelphia and
a track planned in Chester.
chairman of Greenwood Racing, the company that owns Philadelphia
Park, said a temporary parlor could be housed in the current
racetrack building on Street Road. But he is also considering
a new, temporary facility.
parlor would mean the park is reverting to its initial plans.
In April 2003, the park submitted and received approval from
the township to erect a temporary structure. But after the slots
momentum slowed in Harrisburg, park officials said they would
instead concentrate on a permanent, 250,000-square-foot complex.
would be a scaled-back version of our permanent structure,"
Green said of the new plans. "Our business is to always
provide a first-class facility."
phase of the track's permanent facility would take until sometime
in 2007 to complete and cost about $300 million, Green said.
That phase of a multistory complex would include about 500 guest
rooms as the first installment of an upscale hotel, retail shops,
restaurants, a spa and entertainment venues.
agreements, Green declined to say which hotel or restaurant
companies he was dealing with. Some restaurants, he said, would
be operated in-house.
of conditional licenses by early summer, however, would take
quick action by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, which
met for the first time last month and had its second meeting
meeting, the board, headed by Philadelphia lawyer Thomas A.
"Tad" Decker, voted to hire two lawyers - a staff
attorney and a special assistant to the board - and said in
the next month or so it would begin considering regulations
and a slots licensing application form.
board doesn't want to speculate on any time frame at this point,"
said Nick Hays, a spokesman for Decker. "Right now they
are focused on developing the best regulatory framework for
State Sen. Robert "Tommy" Tomlinson (R., Bucks), who
helped draft the slots legislation, said he believes that Green
might not be far off in his timeline, even though the gambling
legislation calls for setting up a "whole new bureaucracy."
probably close," Tomlinson said. The state gaming board
"is moving in pretty good order... . They are working hard
and getting the organization together."
Park and other tracks are already licensed by the state
racing commission, Green said he believes that tracks will have
little trouble qualifying for conditional and, later, permanent
But he said lining up financing for the project, and deciding
how much to invest when, are still large concerns. In addition
to any construction costs, tracks must pay $50 million for a
license. Green anticipates spending $40 million to $50 million
more on slot machines.
question is," Green said, "to what extent do you spend
money on the full panoply of development? How much do you spend
on bricks and mortar in the early stages?"
Park has not announced any partnerships with big-money casino
companies that are joining with potential slots license-holders
or pushing into the territory on their own.
some of Philadelphia
Park's competition could come from Caesars Entertainment
Inc., the operator of casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas.
The company paid $64.7 million this month for property along
the Delaware River in Philadelphia. The city is slated for two
"stand-alone" slots parlors.
Harrah's Entertainment Inc. is joining with Chester Downs &
Marina LLC to build a "racino." Construction is expected
to begin in April with live racing starting a year later. Officials
at Harrah's said there are no plans to open a temporary facility,
but they anticipate a permanent slots parlor to be ready a few
months after racing begins.
Park, Green said, has received inquiries from the major
casino companies that view Pennsylvania slots as a "major
growth opportunity," but the track plans to go it alone
Supporters say once the more than 60,000 slot machines are fully
operational, they will generate thousands of jobs and $3 billion
per year in gross revenue.