A proposal to build a second casino in Philadelphia, PA took a step towards becoming reality last week.

But while the company approved to build the Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia project in 2014 jumped through one legal hoop, a series of others is expected to confront it long before the City of Brotherly Love finds itself with two casinos.

The Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia project

Stadium Casino LLC’s original proposal to build the Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia near The South Philadelphia Sports Complex was approved by state regulators in November 2014. The Sports Complex is home to Philadelphia’s professional sports teams.

SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood opened in 2010 and remains the city’s only casino. There are 12 total casino properties in PA.

Both SugarHouse and Market East, a second company that bid for the casino project and lost, were among those initially opposing the project. They claimed investor Bob Manoukian’s interest in the project was in contravention of the state’s one and one-third rule. This rule states a majority owner in one casino can’t own more than one-third of another.

Manoukian currently owns approximately 85 percent of Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc., which owns and operates Parx Casino in Bensalem, PA, a half hour outside of Philadelphia.

The Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia project was originally presented as a 50/50 partnership between Greenwood and gaming and hospitality developer The Cordish Companies.

Thumbs up from PA Gaming Control Board

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court asked the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to sort out the ownership issue before it issued a gaming license.

At a public hearing last month, Manoukian claimed to be transferring a 17 percent interest in the project into a trust for his three sons, leaving him with a little less than 29 percent of the proposed new casino.

As a result, the Gaming Board ruled unanimously last week that Manoukian’s interests in both Parx and the Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia project fit within state limits.

Appeals pending

However, Market East could still appeal the decision in the courts.

Plus, Sugarhouse is said to be exploring its legal options after the Gaming Board denied it standing in the case. Market East has 30 days to appeal the ruling. In the meantime, the Gaming Board plans to ensure Manoukian sets up the trust as explained before issuing the project a gaming license.

The state would be able to collect on a $75 million licensing fee should it issue the project a gaming license this year.

A $600 million gaming and entertainment destination

If construction does go ahead, the $600 million Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia project is expected to take over a year to complete. It will be a world-class hotel, gaming, dining, and entertainment destination in the heart of the Stadium District.

The casino will feature 2,000 slot machines and 125 table games.

Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has spent more than a decade traveling the globe in his capacities as a reporter, editor, and video producer in the world of high stakes poker and gambling. He covers the industry for a variety of publications, including USPoker.com, PlayUSA.com, and PlayPA.com.