So much for dipping a few toes in the water -- not only is the governor now on board with table games, thanks to the budget crunch, but the Legislature is also looking at expanding the number of casinos. This, before we've even finished building the first round of casinos (thanks to the two holdouts in Philly, a racetrack casino that may or may not be built in Lawrence County, and a yet-unawarded resort casino license).
From the PG's Tom Barnes:
With major tourism sites such as a Valley Forge hotel, the Nemacolin Woodlands resort and now a hotel near Gettysburg thinking about adding slot machines, state legislators may increase the number of "resort hotel" slots licenses from the current two to as many as four or five to accommodate the demand. As part of the discussion to allow table games, the state Legislature is talking about "two to three additional Category 3 licenses" statewide, said Brett Marcy, spokesman for House Majority Leader Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne. The Legislature for more than a month has been working on the rules to allow table games -- the tax rate and license fee casinos would pay -- holding up subsidy money for colleges and nonprofit organizations that would be funded by expanded gambling.
Supply and demand is a tricky thing. While the demand for extra casino licenses might be there, the previous casino bidders made their bids on the assumption that there would be a certain number of casinos. Start adding to that number, competition increases for a finite number of gamblers.
... Will Rivers Casino ever come close to meeting revenue expectations?
"After a couple of big opening weeks, the casino saw gross terminal revenues falter, dropping to a low of $2.76 million during the week of the G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh. The early results were far off the casino's own estimates for $427.8 million in gross terminal revenue in its first year of operation, prompting Standard & Poor's to downgrade the Rivers' credit rating from B to B minus and put it on its CreditWatch with negative implications. ... The last week of October, wagering climbed to more than $50 million and revenues hit almost $4 million for the first time since the second week of September. They have stayed in that general vicinity since then, although they still remain lower than projections."
... Who's the new guy?
"The newest member of the state Gaming Control Board is a Philadelphia lawyer who was part of a group that, three years ago, lost a bid for a slots license to operate a casino in Philadelphia. Former Philadelphia city solicitor Kenneth Trujillo was tapped by Gov. Ed Rendell to fill the seat on the gaming regulatory board that was vacated by Sanford Rivers of Pittsburgh, one of the governor's original three appointees in 2005. Mr. Rivers, a former Carnegie Mellon University official, recently resigned from the $145,000-a-year job. Mr. Trujillo, 50, was part of an unsuccessful group of investors that wanted to build a stand-alone slots casino called Riverwalk."
Dispatches from the border
So far, so good re: table games in West Virginia, says The Herald-Mail:
"Two years after three West Virginia counties voted to allow table games at area casinos, community leaders say their fears of crime and addiction were all for naught, unlike hopes for jobs and revenue. Voters in Hancock, Ohio, and Kanawha counties passed a measure allowing table games in the summer of 2007 after months of public debate. Jefferson County voters rejected table games for Charles Town Races & Slots, but will be called upon Saturday, Dec. 5, to vote again on the issue ... In the Northern Panhandle, home of Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort in Chester, W.Va., and Wheeling (W.Va.) Island Hotel Casino Racetrack, the benefits of expanded gaming have so far outweighed the costs, said state Rep. Orphy Klempa, D-Ohio. 'We added more gaming and we did not see more crime; the Mafia did not move in. All those fears were for naught,' he said. 'What we added were jobs for the people who live and depend on this area.'"
Then again, if the Mafia had moved in, it's not like they'd send out a "We've Moved" postcard.
Odds and ends
Isle of Capri rebounds, somewhat surprisingly ... Kansas City, Kan., votes on a casino ... the latest from Ohio, whose voters approved casinos last month ... Are West Virginia casinos worried about Ohio yet? ...Emeril wants to open yet another restaurant at the Sands in Bethlehem.
Four years later, and we still don't know what the Foxwoods casino in Philadelphia will look like, says the Inky:
"Citing ongoing negotiations in the Pennsylvania legislature to change state gaming law, local investors in the Foxwoods casino have asked regulators for more time to produce a plan showing what their proposed slots parlor in South Philadelphia will look like. Last August, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board ordered the investors to submit by today architectual and artist renderings, conceptual proposals, engineering plans and 'any and all other documents relating to construction of a facilty.' The board threatened to revoke Foxwoods' license if the group failed to meet the deadline. In an interview today, Stephen A. Cozen, a lawyer for Foxwoods, said an extension until March 1, 2010, has been requested. Also by that date, a plan for financing the project must be submitted to the gaming board."