Steve Wynn, the casino executive with the megawatt smile, will be in Harrisburg Wednesday to put on a show.
He’ll try to convince the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to let his Wynn Resorts Ltd. take over the oft-delayed Foxwoods Casino project in South Philadelphia. Last week, he said it would be the “cutest casino you have ever seen.”
But wait a minute. Wasn’t this going to be the meeting where the seven-member board was going to get tough and possibly yank the license from the original developers, who couldn’t even decide where to put a casino?
If Wynn offers anything less than actual plans and firm financing commitments, this board needs to act more like tough-minded regulators than paper-tiger enablers.
The Foxwoods farce has gone on too long. The gaming board should not let what could become a Wynn whim get started without making sure the letter and spirit of the Pennsylvania law that created a new multibillion-dollar industry is followed.
Philadelphians have seen this song and dance before: Hollywood star Will Smith to build hotel! Nation’s biggest mall developer to transform Penn’s Landing! Donald Trump to ... well, you get the idea.
So if Wynn can’t deliver the goods today, I’d suggest the gaming board issue an order like the following:
“Whereas, the original backers of the Foxwoods Casino repeatedly violated this board’s deadlines,
“And whereas, this license awarded three years ago has proven to be more of a license to delay development than to print money and generate tax revenue,
“We so order that the license to build a second casino in Philadelphia be put out for new bids, in order to:
* Generate an additional $50 million for the state;
* Create a frenzy of lucrative negotiations between neighborhood organizations and potential developers;
* Spawn waves of new protests in the streets;
* Produce several fresh lawsuits over the whole mess;
* Fuel media speculation that a casino could be built near the Wachovia sports complex, on Rittenhouse Square, or in Fairmount Park next to the Please Touch Museum,
* And permit us to hold at least one public hearing where the citizenry will not be able to directly ask questions of any of the significant stakeholders.”