Market8 touts central location, revenue projections at casino suitability hearing
The group behind the proposed Market8 casino touted their plan's central location and revenue projections before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board this morning.
Market8's backers were speaking at the second day of suitability hearings before the board, which will award the license for Philadelphia's second casino.
A video the group played for the board called the proposed casino, which would be located at 8th and Market streets, a "new destination in the heart of the city."
Peter Tyson, a financial consultant for Market8, said he was not aware of any other casino situated in such proximity to residential areas, high-profile visitor attractions and business offices.
The casino would "transform Market Street east into one of the great avenues in America," developer Ken Goldenberg told the board.
Market8 officials said their site was the most accessible to public transit and pedestrians, and easily reachable by car from major highways.
The central location would draw convention-goers "dying for something to do" at night, Tyson said. Visitors to Philadelphia, he said, are unlikely to take a taxi to SugarHouse or public transit to the stadium district and then "schlep" from the subway to a casino.
But the touted Center City location also to numerous questions from board members about parking issues.
The casino says it expects 56 percent of patrons to drive to the site, 20 percent to take public transit and the rest to walk or take cabs or chartered vehicles. Still, there's ample parking in the area, consultant Barbara Chance said.
"There are literally thousands of vacant spaces" nearby during peak casino times, she said. And many employees will likely take public transportation, Chance said.
The board also wondered whether Market8's plan to have patrons pay for parking would be a turn-off.
But Market8 officials say frequent gamblers -- who drive most of the revenue -- will get complimentary parking, and those heading to the site's restaurants and entertainment destinations are used to paying to park at such sites in Center City.
Market8 officials said their casino would bring in the most money, with a projected $518 million in gross gaming revenue, $260 million in taxes for Pennsylvania and $405 million in incremental gaming revenue.
Those amounts are higher than projections for The Provence and the three proposals that would be located in South Philadelphia's stadium district, Market8 claims.
"These differences are very significant, as they will occur year after year," Tyson said.
Other inquiries from the board questioned whether the casino and hotel markets in the Philadelphia region were already saturated.
Market8 officials said the projected 22 percent of wins for the casion would be cannabilized from other facilities, primarily from SugarHouse.
Suburban casinos in southeastern Pennsylvania aren't accessible by public transit, Tyson said, meaning Market8's impact would be "negligible" on their revenues.
Other hotels shouldn't be harmed by Market8, said Bobby Soper, an executive with Mohegan Sun, which would operate the casino. Casino hotels generally create more demand for surrounding hotels, he said.
Other questions concerned how the casino would affect the surrounding community. Market8 says 10 percent of "distributable profits" will go to local charities, and an "unprecedented" rewards program would let patrons redeem loyalty points at local businesses.
Casino Revolution is scheduled to make its pitch this afternoon, and Live! Hotel & Casino will present Thursday morning.