Commonwealth Court rules against Foxwoods investors

In a 6-1 decision the state Commonwealth Court today rejected an appeal from the investors behind Foxwoods, a failed casino project in South Philly, to overturn the state Gaming Control Board's December 2010 decision to revoke their gaming license.

The investors argued in a Sept. 15 hearing in Harrisburg that the board moved two swiftly on two key issues:  Whether the investors were still financially suitable to build a casino and whether they had violated a series of deadlines set by the board to get the project moving.  After four years of delays, the investors were on a third casino design and operator when the board pulled the plug.

Commonwealth Court Judges Mary Hannah Leavitt and P. Kevin Brobson supported the decision but in a concurring opinion said that was because Foxwoods had missed so many board deadlines, not because of the financial suitability issue.

Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia A. McCullough cast the lone dissenting vote, noting that the investors "vigorously disputed" the financial suitability issue.  McCullough also expressed concern that the decision caused the investors to lose the $50 million fee they paid for a state casino license without the benefit of a hearing to argue about that loss.

The investors have 30 days to decide if they want to appeal today's decision to the state Supreme Court.  Their attorney, Steve Cozen, said they are studying the ruling.

"And while the result is disappointing, we are encouraged by the fact that at least three of the seven judges recognized that we were entitled to an evidentiary hearing with regard to financial suitability," Cozen said.