awmakers in the House and Senate are preparing to introduce bills when the General Assembly reconvenes in January that would take away Philadelphia's automatic right to a second casino. The prospect of losing a casino could be an unexpected outcome of the prolonged collapse of Foxwoods.
SugarHouse Casino in Fishtown finally opened in September, but the stalled Foxwoods project in South Philadelphia lost its right to run a casino in a 6-1 Gaming Control Board decision December 16.
State Representative Curt Schroder, chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, is drafting legislation that would allow the auctioning of the Foxwoods license to the highest bidder anywhere in the state.
Republican leaders, including incoming House Majority Leader Mike Turzai of Allegheny County, have indicated that they support the idea, Schroder said.
In the Senate, Democrat John N. Wozniak of Johnstown plans to reintroduce legislation that would open up bidding for not only the Foxwoods license but also one reserved for the financially struggling Valley View Downs racetrack in Western Pennsylvania's Lawrence County.
Wozniak introduced a similar bill in May, but the full Senate never voted on it. He said in an interview that the bill might advance further now that the gaming board had revoked the license and the matter was more pressing. "Philly could still be in the mix," Wozniak said. "I'm not saying you can't have it there. But let the private sector make the determination."
When Pennsylvania legalized gambling in 2004, legislators failed to think through what would happen if a license was revoked. In particular, the gaming act is silent on whether a casino operator should get a refund of the us$ 50 million licensing fee for a slots parlor, said Doug Sherman, general counsel for the gaming board.