"Creating a new industry is a complex and arduous journey, but I can now stand with my fellow Board members and announce to the citizens of Pennsylvania that they are a step closer to significant property tax relief, additional jobs, and a reinvigorated horse-racing industry," said Tad Decker, Chairman of the Gaming Control Board.
The companies given permission to build casinos housing up to 5,000 slot machines include HSP Gaming, Philadelphia Entertainment & Development Partners, PITG Gaming, Mount Airy #1 and Sands Bethworks Gaming. Additionally, state law permits a combined total of 61,000 machines in all licensed facilities.
"We are honored to be granted this opportunity," said Sheldon G. Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp, whose company will build the Sands Bethworks casino. "As a company we take tremendous pride in our ability to deliver compelling, creative, and successful destination resorts. In this case we aim to produce a development so outstanding that the people of Bethlehem, Lehigh Valley, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will all be proud to call it their own."
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The project is expected to open in 2008 on a 126-acre development and will feature a 300-room hotel, 200,000 square feet of retail space, 3,000 slot machines, and a variety of dining and entertainment options. The property will also be home to the National Museum of Industrial History, an arts and cultural center, and the broadcast home of the local PBS affiliate. The company hopes to open the complex in 2008.
In Philadelphia, Philadelphia Entertainment & Development Partners, LP will build the Philadelphia Entertainment's Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia to be located in South Philadelphia along the Delaware River. It will be operated by Foxwoods Development, cost about $460 million including licensing fees and include 3,000 slot machines. It is expected to open in November 2008.
HSP Gaming, LP will open the HSP's SugarHouse Casino to be located along the Delaware River near the Girard Avenue exit of Interstate 95 in Philadelphia. The $550 million SugarHouse project, slated for the site of an old sugar refinery, will include a 500-room hotel, restaurants and shops and a casino that have 3,000 slot machines when it debuts in April 2008.
PITG Gaming, LLC will open the PITG Gaming Casino to be operated in Pittsburgh by owner Majestic Star. It will be located on the North Shore west of Heinz Field and the Carnegie Science Center. It will have 5,000 slot machines. It is expected to open in March 2008.
Also, Mount Airy #1, LLC will build the Mount Airy Casino at the Mount Airy resort in Paradise Township in the Poconos. It’s expected to open in November 2007.
In addition, the Board approved permanent licenses for six Category 1 applicants which may operate a maximum of 5,000 slot machines at existing horse racing facilities. Earlier this year, conditional licenses were granted to these six facilities. They included Chester Downs and Marina, LLC, Downs Racing, LP (Pocono Downs, Luzerne County), Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment Inc., Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association (Penn National, Dauphin County), Presque Isle Downs, Inc. (Erie County) and the Washington Trotting Association, Inc.
No gaming companies that operate in Atlantic City, which is less than an hour away from Philadephia, were awarded a gaming license, including Donald Trump who was banking on creating a facility at the site of an old Tasty Cake factory.
After receiving its permanent license Philadelphia Park made its debut on Tuesday.
"I can say that the slot machines are getting a pretty good workout," said Hal Handel to the AP, the general manager of Philadelphia Park, which is owned by Greenwood Racing. "We've been very busy all day long."
The track had just completed a six month renovation of the grandstand to make room for 2,000 slot machines. The track hopes to add an additional 1,000 machines over the next six months before applying for the right to operate a total of 5,000.
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