Local investors in Philadelphia’s Foxwoods Casino project said they were “blindsided”

Local investors in the Philadelphia’s troubled Foxwoods Casino project said they were “blindsided” by the abrupt decision of Steve Wynn to pull out of a deal to build the waterfront gambling hall.

Speaking to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Stephen A. Cozen, a lawyer for the group, said, “We feel very much victimized.”

A local spokeswoman for Wynn Resorts said, “We’re not responding.”

In 2006, the Foxwoods group - consisting at the time of 14 individuals and charitable trusts and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, owners of Connecticut’s Foxwoods casino - won one of two licenses for a slot-only casino on Columbus Boulevard on the Delaware River in the Pennsport section of South Philadelphia.

But from the start, the project faced opposition from City Council and neighbors. Wynn began talking to the group about taking over the foundering project last October. But the Las Vegas casino tycoon’s exit throws into question whether the investors will be able to hold on to their gaming license.

Last week, state Rep. Michael O'Brien, a casino opponent whose district borders the central waterfront, called on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to “initiate an immediate proceeding for the revocation of this license.” The board is scheduled to take up the issue at its April 29 public meeting.

Wynn’s about-face still has people directly involved in the deal scratching their heads, according to the Inquirer.

A trio of local heavyweights has been steering the faltering project for the last year, taking over from the financially strapped Pequots. They include developer Ron Rubin, Comcast/Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider and New Jersey lawyer Lewis Katz. One person familiar with the project told the Inquirer the three had a relationship that was “fragmented and strained,” and “that had an impact on Wynn's decision.”

The deal “apparently blew apart between the operators,” said Mayor Michael Nutter.