From the state gaming board early this morning:
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court today affirmed the licensing decision made in 2009 by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to award Valley Forge Convention Center Partners, L.P. a Category 3 slot machine license.
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 of operation.
"We are pleased that the Supreme Court upheld this licensing decision which allows this project to move forward so it can create jobs, enhance tourism and produce much needed tax revenue for the Commonwealth," said Greg Fajt, Chairman of the Gaming Control Board.
In addition, Fajt says the Court's ruling also recognizes that the Board conducted a thorough review of the Valley Forge application and that its award of the resort license was appropriate and based upon substantial evidence.
Under current law, a Category 3 licensee may be eligible to operate up to 600 slot machines and 50 table games. Casinos awarded either a Category 1 or Category 2 license can operate up to 5,000 slot machines and 250 table games. Additionally, the Category 3 license restricts use of the gaming facility to registered overnight guests or patrons utilizing one or more of the resort-offered amenities.
The Court's decision allows Valley Forge to move ahead with its expansion and casino project that was approved unanimously by the Board on April 8, 2009. Soon thereafter, Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc., operator of Parx Casino in Bensalem, filed an appeal to the Board's licensing decision with the Supreme Court. Under the state Gaming Act, the Supreme Court is vested with exclusive appellate jurisdiction to consider appeals of any final order, determination or decision of the board involving the approval, issuance, denial or conditioning of a slot machine license.
The main issues Greenwood raised on appeal and which were rejected by the Court were:
-- Whether the PGCB properly determined that Valley Forge is the "owner" of the Valley Forge Convention Center or has sufficient ownership status so as to satisfy the eligibility criteria imposed by the Act?
-- Whether the PGCB properly determined that Valley Forge owns and operates a "well-established resort hotel" as that term is described in the Act and the Board's regulations?
The Board is currently deciding on the award of the second available Category 3 license among four applicants, and expects to make that decision within the next two months.
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Fayette County is one of those four applicants.
... This was a close vote, 3-2. As the AP points out: "Justice Michael Eakin, in a dissent, says the Valley Forge Convention Center 'is many things, but it simply is not a resort.'... The area is overrun with traffic,'" and is clearly a convention center, not a resort, he wrote. "You can call a duck a goose, [but] at the end of the day it is still a duck."
We'll see how this bodes for the fight over the last Category Three license -- one of the arguments Nemacolin has been using is that not all of its competitors qualify as true resorts. One, for example, is a Holiday Inn with designs of grandeur, and hopes to become an RV resort, but is not a resort just yet.