FOR PHILADELPHIA, the political status quo is a winner when it comes to local casino action.
The state Gaming Control Board on Wednesday said it would start accepting applications for the city's second casino license.
The board waited more than two months to see if the Legislature would pass a bill to open up bidding statewide for the Philadelphia license. That legislation is stalled in the state Senate.
Mayor Nutter lobbied to keep the license here while the city's first casino, SugarHouse in Fishtown, pressed to move it out of Philadelphia.
"This is the right decision at the right time," Nutter said, noting the jobs a second casino would create and the gaming taxes it would generate for the city and the school district. "Keeping that license here in Philadelphia has been our top priority."
The state Supreme Court in April refused to consider an appeal from the group of investors who originally won the license in December 2006. That group, which hoped to open a casino called Foxwoods in South Philadelphia, stumbled through a long series of delays until the Gaming Control Board finally revoked the license in December 2010.
Several developers have expressed interest in the Philadelphia license, with Bart Blatstein of Tower Investments pushing the most public plan. Blatstein wants to open a casino, hotel and entertainment complex on North Broad Street at Callowhill Street, on the site of the soon-to-be former home of the Daily News and Inquirer.
"I'm incredibly energized and excited about moving forward with all the plans in this project," Blatstein said Wednesday.
R. Donahue "Don" Peebles, a New York developer, also plans to apply for the license. Peebles said he was in Philadelphia two weeks ago, considering potential casino locations in Center City and along the Delaware River near SugarHouse.
The Goldenberg Group of Blue Bell and Parkway Corp. of Philadelphia have also expressed interest in the license.
Parkway could recruit a casino company for one of its Center City parcels, including another corner of North Broad at Callowhill. Goldenberg may aim for a lot it owns at 8th and Market streets. Both locations are now surface parking lots.
The Gaming Control Board set Nov. 15 as a deadline for applications. It could take nine months to a year to choose a winner.
The new license holder will have to pay the state $50 million to operate slot machines and $16.5 million to operate table games. The new casino can't be within 10 miles of existing casinos in Chester or Bensalem.
Former state Rep. Curt Schroder of Chester County introduced legislation that would have opened up bidding for the license outside of Philadelphia, but excluding anywhere in Pittsburgh. The state House passed it on May 2. Schroder has since resigned from the House.
The legislation is now bottled up in a committee headed by state Sen. Jane Earll. The Senate can't reach consensus on whether to keep the license here, open up the bidding or eliminate the license, Earll said Wednesday.
— Daily News staff writers Catherine Lucey and David Gambacorta contributed to this report.