The bad news is getting worse: Atlantic City, which has seen the announcement of three casino closures this summer, is likely to see even more: Deutsche Bank forecasts the city will be home to just six casinos by 2017.
Something stinks in Delaware and it’s not just the horseshoe crabs decaying on the beaches of the Delaware Bay.
It is the bailout of the state’s three casinos, which may be the worst deal in the history of bad state government deals. And that is really saying something considering New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave Revel casino in Atlantic City $300 million last year, and this year Revel is declaring bankruptcy.
The Delaware deal stinks even more than that one. Let’s go through the reasons why.
Presented for your contemplation: Two seemingly unrelated pieces of gambling news — one local, the other no so much.
• Pennsylvania’s Gaming Control Board still hasn’t held a vote on a second casino license for Philadelphia. A vote had been expected within 60 days of the close of applications on the matter. Which means that a second casino isn’t a done deal.
• Multiple news reports over the weekend revealed that actor/director/aging pretty-boy/future Batman Ben Affleck has been banned from playing blackjack at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas because security caught him “card counting” to gain an advantage against the house. “You are too good at the game,” one of the security guys reportedly told Affleck as his time at the table ended.
Things seem to have come full-circle for the old Foxwoods property in South Philadelphia. Bart Blatstein, one of the current five contenders for the city’s second gaming license, is said to be purchasing the failed casino site for $13 million. Blatstein had once planned a shopping center for the 16-acre plot back in 1993 when he owned it.
According to the Inquirer’s Jennifer Lin, people like deputy mayor for economic development Alan Greenberger are excited for what this might mean for the area:
As part of the deal, Blatstein will convey to the Natural Lands Trust, a local land conservation organization, a 100-foot-wide strip of land along the river’s edge from Tasker Street to Reed. That will allow the city to continue a waterfront trail across the former Foxwoods site on South Columbus Boulevard, between Tasker and Reed Streets.
One of the remaining bidders for Philadelphia’s casino license just got some local support in addition to its last endorsements: a blessing from the Washington Square West Civic Association. A recent tally among the organization’s board of directors resulted in a unanimous vote in favor of the project.
The association’s zoning chair Jonathan Broh cited the project’s goals as encouraging growth and revitalization on the East Market Street and Chesnut Street:
“MARKET8’s numerous restaurants, concert venue, and casino will bring much-needed activity to Market Street,” Broh said. “This project, along with plans to extend the casino’s Rewards Program into the business community, will complement other planned developments in the area and catalyze positive growth.”
Part of what swayed the civic association to Market8’s side is the project’s promise of a yearly $1 million investment into the community. According to the press release, these funds would go to general neighborhood upkeep and enrichment:
maintain and upgrade services, make physical enhancements and promote the economic vitality of small businesses on and around East Market Street.
Is this what SugarHouse meant when they pledged to expand their presence on the Delaware River? By dumping construction materials in the Delaware River?
Prosecutors said workers at the site of the Delaware Avenue casino were spotted dumping materials into the river on more than a dozen occasions in 2009 and 2010 without the proper permits to do so. The dumping continued after the casino operators received three cease-and-desist letters from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
So they’re paying $650,000 for the damage–nearly all of it to the Brandywine Conservancy, which protects natural resources. See? They are good corporate citizens! [Inquirer]
NBC 10: “The Pennsylvania Convention Center will play host to a beauty contest of sorts, as six groups of wealthy businessmen and casino company representatives deliver their sales pitch to state gambling regulators in their pursuit of a potentially lucrative casino license in Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s daylong hearing at the convention center Tuesday will give each applicant about 45 minutes to showcase their casino plans. The eventual winner, expected sometime later this year, will have the right to build the second casino in Philadelphia.”
CBS Philly: “There will be a chance for the public to have its say, in April, with a decision by the gaming board likely toward the end of the year. Tuesday’s event is in Room 103a of the Convention Center, which Harbach says has room for about 350 people. But you can also watch it online at the board’s website,GamingControlBoard.pa.gov.”
Inky: “First up at 9 a.m. Tuesday is Ken Goldenberg’s Market East Associates L.P. The group announced last week that Mohegan Sun would be the operator for its proposed $500 million casino and entertainment complex at Eighth and Market Streets, to be called Market8. … Last to make a presentation, at 3 p.m., will be Bart Blatstein. The developer is touting the Provence at 400 N. Broad St. and gave a tour Monday of the property – once home to The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com – and what he envisions as a $700 million casino-entertainment complex.”
The bids are in: Now the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will take a year or more to sift through the six applications and decide who—if anybody—gets Philadelphia’s second casino license. “It’s not going to be a short process and it’s going to take as long as it takes,” said R. Douglas Sherman, the board’s chief counsel. “We’re going to deal with each project separately.” Each bid will be evaluated according to background checks of its backers, a determination of financing, an investigation of the effects of its location, and so forth. In February, each applicant will make a presdentation to the board; public hearings in Philadelphia will take place by next summer. [Gaming Today]