Philadelphia Casino Hopefuls Take Aim at Atlantic City

Six applicants for a casino license in Philadelphia offered detailed proposals signaling more competition for New Jersey’s gambling industry.

“Atlantic City is the enemy,” Steven Wynn, chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts Ltd., said yesterday as he presented plans for a resort costing as much as $1 billion that he hopes to build on the Delaware River, about 60 miles northwest of New Jersey’s gaming center.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is weighing applications for what would be the fifth casino in the Philadelphia area. Last year, the state, home to 11 casinos, passed New Jersey to become the second-largest U.S. gambling market. Revenue at New Jersey’s 12 casinos fell 13 percent to $206 million in January from a year earlier, the state Gaming Enforcement Division reported yesterday.

Wynn pitched an all-suites resort with a riverwalk and views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. The 71-year-old billionaire mentioned his ties to the city several times, including his University of Pennsylvania attendance five decades ago. He got applause from attendees after showing videos of his room designs with music by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Bing Crosby singing “Style” from the 1964 movie “Robin and the 7 Hoods.”

‘Show Business’

“OK, a little show business today,” he said.

Pennsylvania regulators will hold public hearings in April. A decision on which applicant would get the Philadelphia license is expected in six to nine months, according to Douglas Harbach, a spokesman for the board.

Other applicants include Penn National Gaming Inc., based in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, which presented plans for a $480 million Hollywood Casino in the city’s sports district and developer Bart Blatstein, who showed plans for the Provence, a French-themed resort north of the iconic City Hall.

Blatstein said the $300 million he has already invested in the city amounted to more than all the other applicants combined.

“We’re not people coming from out of town, saying how much we love Philly, we love cheesesteaks, and jet back out,” he said.

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