Pa. gaming board awards 5 slots licenses in historic session

| Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2006

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- State gambling regulators on Wednesday awarded five slots licenses for casino projects in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Bethlehem and the Pocono Mountains, while rejecting bids that included a proposal for a slots parlor near the historic Gettysburg battlefield.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board awarded two Philadelphia licenses to groups led by billionaire developer Neil G. Bluhm and by Connecticut-based Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. In Pittsburgh, the board awarded a license to Detroit-based casino developer Don H. Barden.

Las Vegas-based casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. won a license for a Bethlehem casino and businessman Louis A. DeNaples won one for a Pocono Mountain resort.

The gaming board can award as many as 11 permanent slots licenses, each allowing as many as 5,000 machines. Six licenses are earmarked for the state's horse-racing tracks, while 13 applicants competed for the remaining five stand-alone licenses.

Among the applications the board rejected were:

-- a proposal by St. Louis-based casino operator Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. for a casino in Pittsburgh; Isle of Capri had promised to build a new $290 million arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins without using taxpayer money.

-- a hotly contested proposal by a group led by Connecticut-based Silver Point Capital LP for a casino near the Gettysburg battlefield;

-- an application by Donald Trump's Atlantic City, N.J.-based casino company for a casino in Philadelphia;

So far, two racetracks -- Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and Philadelphia Park -- already have opened slots parlors under conditional licenses, while racetracks in Chester and near Erie are expected to open slots parlors in the next two months.

Gov. Ed Rendell rejuvenated a 25-year drive to legalize casino-style gambling in Pennsylvania by promising that slots revenue would help reduce property taxes and revive the state's declining horse-racing industry. The law passed in 2004 authorized up to 61,000 slot machines at 14 sites.

A look at slots casino license winners and project details By The Associated Press Details about the license applicants for Pennsylvania's standalone slots parlors, including the key interests involved and proposed locations:
PITTSBURGH Majestic Star Casino -- Expected to open with 3,000 slot machines in March 2008 on Pittsburgh's North Shore -- Sole investor is Don H. Barden, a Detroit-based casino developer -- Barden is chairman of the Majestic Star Casino LLC, which operates four casinos in Indiana, Mississippi and Colorado
BETHLEHEM Sands Bethworks Casino -- Expected to open with 3,000 slot machines in mid-2008 on former Bethlehem Steel Corp. factory site -- Biggest investor is Las Vegas-based Las Vegas Sands Corp., a publicly traded company run by billionaire Sheldon Adelson -- Las Vegas Sands owns casinos in Las Vegas and Macau, and is building new properties in Macau, Singapore and Las Vegas -- Other investors include New York developer Barry Gosin and Pennsylvania Turnpike commissioner Pasquale Deon
POCONO MOUNTAINS Mount Airy Resort & Casino -- Expected to open with 2,500 slot machines in late 2007 at former Mount Airy Lodge in Mount Pocono -- Sole investor is Louis A. DeNaples, regarded as one of northeastern Pennsylvania's wealthiest businessmen -- DeNaples owns numerous companies, and is the largest shareholder of First National Community Bancorp
PHILADELPHIA Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia -- Expected to open with 3,000 slot machines in late 2008 along the Delaware River -- Biggest investor is Connecticut-based Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation -- The tribe runs the huge Foxwoods Resort Casino on its reservation and plans to build MGM Grand at Foxwoods next to it -- Other investors include music legend Quincy Jones, Philadelphia 76ers chairman Ed Snider and developer Ron Rubin SugarHouse Casino -- Expected to open with 1,500 slot machines in April 2008 along the Delaware River; a total of 3,000 machines are expected by November 2008 -- Biggest investor is Neil G. Bluhm, a Chicago-based billionaire developer -- Bluhm's company built and operates Casino Niagara in Canada -- Other investors include developer Daniel Keating, former state Supreme Court justice William Lamb and lawyer Richard Sprague Sources: Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, individual companies

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