PA Gaming Board awards slot license
April 13, 2009
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board awarded one of two available slot operator licenses for a Category 3 resort to Valley Forge Convention Center Partners, L.P. The license is the twelfth of 14 available slot machine licenses awarded by the Board and the first awarded since December 2006. The license will permit Valley Forge to operate up to 500 slot machines at is location in Montgomery County.
At the same time, the Board agreed to continue to consider the application filed by the Bushkill Group, Inc., operators of the Fernwood Hotel & Resort in the Poconos.
The Valley Forge Convention Center has 488 hotel rooms on 850,000 square feet of property and is located at 1160 First Avenue in King of Prussia. Valley Forge estimates that it will produce $74 million in annualized gross terminal revenue from slot machine play by its fifth year five of operation.
"Despite the tightened credit market, Valley Forge was able to demonstrate to the Gaming Control Board that it has obtained firm financial commitments for its project," said Chair Mary DiGiacomo Colins.
Colins added that an adjudication setting forth the reasons for the Board's decision in granting Valley Forge a gaming license will be issued soon. Under the Gaming Act, any party with standing in the licensing decision would have 30 days to file an appeal of the Board's decision to the State Supreme Court.
The Bushkill Group, Inc. is seeking to operate a slot machine facility at its Fernwood Hotel & Resort, a 440-acre hotel and recreational complex located on Route 209 in Bushkill, Monroe County.
While the application for Fernwood is still under consideration, the Board also reopened the Category 3 application process for a 90 day period beginning today in an effort to see if other qualified resorts would be interested in the license and could provide the Commonwealth with a better overall project with firm financial commitments.
The Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act permits the Board to award up to two licenses to a well-established resort hotel in order to create an additional patron amenity. Properties located in Pennsylvania that could qualify for a Category 3 license must be well-established resort hotels with no fewer than 275 guest rooms under common ownership, not located within 15 linear miles of any other licensed slot machine casino, and already offering substantial year-round recreational guest amenities on their premises.
The Act, along with regulations established by the Board, restricts who can enter the gaming area of a Category 3 casino. Those permitted to utilize the gaming facility include registered overnight guests, patrons of one or more amenities, authorized employees and other persons authorized by the Board, and individuals holding a Board-approved and valid seasonal or year-round membership to use one or more of the amenities at the resort.
Eleven slot machine casinos had previously been licensed in Pennsylvania. Those facilities, six at horse racing facilities and five stand-alone casinos, were awarded in the Category 1 and Category 2licensing categories and can operate a maximum of 5,000 slot machines.
Currently, seven casinos are operating with two more slated to go on line pending Board approval during 2009. Since the opening of the first casino in November 2006, legalized slot gaming has returned nearly $2.3 billion in tax revenues and employed approximately 23,000 casino and construction jobs. After the two 2009 openings and moves by two other current operators from temporary to larger, permanent facilities, annualized revenues are expected to increase 40% with 2,000 more casino jobs created.
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