Philly Park Casino Plans Remain in Limbo

Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack management has told the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board it would take at least two more months before plans for a stand-alone casino could be completed.

Though it was given the deadline of Aug. 10 to present a master plan for a stand-alone casino, Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack management told the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board it would take at least two more months before such plans could be completed. The timelime drew a rebuke from gaming control board chairman Tad Decker.

At an Aug. 8 meeting of the gaming control board, Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment chairman Bob Green said progress has been made in developing its master plan, but two more months are needed. Greenwood was granted a conditional license in late 2006 to operate slot machines based on its submission of a master plan for the racetrack property, which included temporarily installing slots on the first two floors of the existing grandstand while work began on a permanent, stand-alone casino and multi-level parking garage at an estimated cost of more than $300 million.

But in April, Greenwood petitioned the board to change the classification of the grandstand from a “temporary” to a “permanent” slots structure, claiming it had invested heavily in remodeling the first two floors and that it wasn’t economically feasible to forge ahead with the stand-alone casino as originally planned.

Members of the gaming control board and Pennsylvania State Racing Commission toured the backstretch and grandstand in June, and Greenwood’s request to add 300 more slot machines was denied. The company was told it must come up with a new master plan by Aug. 10 or risk losing its casino license.

Horsemen have balked at Greenwood’s change in plans, and also released figures that indicated double-digit declines in on-track handle since slots began operating last December.

“Among Greenwood’s conditions to receive a permanent license is the construction of a permament facility,” said Doug Harbach, spokesperson for the gaming control board. “The conditional license that they are currently operating under expires Dec. 18.”

Greenwood was the only one of six slots operators at the meeting that reported that it didn’t have a master plan for a permanent facility.

J. Gary Luderitz, vice president and general manager of Penn National Race Course, said construction of the company’s Hollywood Casino at Penn National, a casino and racing facility, is more than half completed and scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2008.