I thought the day would never arrive when Pennsylvania regulators finally would yank the license for the unbuilt Foxwoods casino.
It’s been like watching Bugs Bunny toy with Elmer Fudd, daring the animated hunter to cross this line, then this line, then this line … except the casino version never quite reached that cliff where Elmer falls.
Not too long ago, the mere whisper that an Atlantic City casino was for sale would spark bidding wars by those eager to enter the nation’s second-biggest gambling market.
But competition from the launch of slot-machine gambling in Pennsylvania ate away at what had grown into a $5.2 billion industry in 2006. The steep recession that began in December 2007 cooled Atlantic City fever further by weakening the market fundamentals and leverage assumptions made by starry-eyed investors.
Oh, there are deals being done now. But what passes for action happens inside in bankruptcy courtrooms and loan-workout departments.
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?
Judging by reader reaction to my column last week on the delays holding up construction of Philadelphia’s two casinos and a major hospital expansion, the city would be better off without them.
The reasons varied, although ire over increased traffic was common to all three projects. Fox Chase Cancer Center, Foxwoods Casino and SugarHouse Casino were seen as something to be repelled at all cost.
A rule of thumb for successful economic development is: Make sure you don’t lose the employers you have. It’s better to help existing firms deal with the problems they encounter, because attracting new companies is hard and expensive.
Hope is a good thing to have at the start of a new year.
At this time last year, the city was positively giddy about the transition to the Nutter administration. This year, that feeling is shared by much of the nation about the pending Obama presidency.
Both ascended to power following leaders who earned their low approval ratings. The difference is that Mayor Nutter took office at a time many were hoping a recession could be averted, while Barack Obama has no such luck.
If you’re an investor, the conference call a company holds with analysts after an earnings report is a necessary but usually dull exercise.
Necessary, because often executives explain the dense text that fills most earnings releases. Dull, because often the discussion is full of jargon and heavy on accounting.
And then there is Penn National Gaming Inc.
So Foxwoods and its partners will drop their plans for a $670 million South Philadelphia casino in exchange for the chance to build one in what is now a shopping mall in Center City?
I’ll be sure to check it out right after I take the tram over the Delaware River to the Simon Property Group mall at Penn’s Landing to buy something pretty for my wife.
Or maybe after I try that virtual Pirates of the Caribbean ride at DisneyQuest at Eighth and Market.