Penn National first up at casino suitability hearings

The Hollywood Casino Philadelphia as proposed by Penn National, in which some revenue would flow to the city. (Source: Penn National Gaming Inc.)

Penn National Gaming Inc. kicked off three days of Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board suitability hearings Tuesday morning, arguing that the Wyomissing, Pa,.company has the best site, the strong finances needed to ensure that the project will be built, and the most experience in competitive markets.

Experience does matter, Tim Wilmott, Penn National Gaming, told the gaming commissioners, acknowledging that much of the second Philadelphia casino's business is expected to come from casinos already operating in the region.

"We have operated successfully in some of the most competitive environments in the United States," Wilmott said.

Another Penn National Gaming advantage touted by Wilmott is the company's database of 2.7 million existing gamblers east of the Mississippi that Penn National believes it can tap into to draw business to South Philadelphia by offering package getaways, including sports events, for example.

Jay Snowden, Penn National's chief operating officer, said the company has built six casinos since 2008, gaining valuable experience in marketing a new project.

Penn National has projected that its proposed casino in South Philadelphia would bring in $329 million in annual gambling revenue, $264 million from slots and $65.1 million from table games.

Penn National, which already operates Hollywood Casino in central Pennsylvania, envisions a $480 million casino with 2,050 slot machines, 66 table games, and 15 poker tables. The facility would include a 3,450-car parking garage.

In all, Penn National operates 21 casinos, including five attached to race tracks.