Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment’s recently decided to sell its interest in the proposed Stadium Casino. Now Philadelphia is back to hoping a single gaming entity can construct a world-class gaming parlor in the South Philly stadium area.
Why, after all the years of fighting, clawing and negotiating their way into a piece of the Philadelphia gaming pie, would Greenwood pull out now?
Moreover, what does Cordish Companies, Greenwood’s former partner on the project, stand to gain from the decision?
Let’s take a deeper look.
Cracks in the Cordish-Greenwood foundation
Greenwood Gaming, owner of Parx Casino, in Bensalem, PA, originally partnered with Maryland-based Cordish Companies on the proposed Stadium Casino deal, officially known as Stadium Casino LLC.
But almost from the get-go, there were issues.
Specifically, there was a legal battle over casino ownership laws in Pennsylvania.
It turns out that the principal owner of Parx, Watche “Bob” Manoukian, was in violation of limited casino ownership laws enacted by the state.
The legal troubles, of course, slowed progress. SugarHouse Casino, the only other operational casino in Philadelphia, appealing Stadium’s casino license certainly didn’t help.
But even Pennsylvania legislators simply changing the law so that Manoukian could keep control of both casino projects and SugarHouse’s decision to drop their appeal wasn’t enough to keep the partnership intact.
Teardown to build up
Greenwood and Cordish originally planned to open the city’s second casino in South Philadelphia’s stadium district in the first quarter of 2018.
They even began building efforts, tearing down the Packer Avenue Holiday Inn to make way for the $600 million casino project.
The proposed Stadium project was meant to consist of a casino and hotel complex, including:
- 2,000 slot machines
- 125 table games
- 200-plus rooms
- Five restaurants
- Parking garage
According to Cordish, who is ultimately buying out Greenwood, the plan remains the same, even if the timeline has changed drastically.
To this point, $37 million has already gone into tearing down the old Holiday Inn on Packer Avenue. But even that work wasn’t completed before the other issues slowed and ultimately halted construction efforts. Another $74.75 million went to licensing costs alone.
With the Stadium Casino project also approved for a mini-casino in Westmoreland County, it’s easy to see why Cordish was excited to announce their plan to buy out Greenwood.
“We at Cordish are excited to now immediately get to work on constructing and opening two first-class casinos for Pennsylvania, which will create thousands of new, quality jobs for local residents, and hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxes for the Commonwealth,” said Joe Weinberg, managing member of the newly formed Stadium Casino Baltimore Investors LLC.
Starting anew … in 2020
About a month ago, efforts to tear down the defunct Holiday Inn stopped. Shortly after that, rumors began to swirl that not only the casino license — but the entire project — may be up for sale.
Now, we know that Cordish will be taking the lead.
The updated timeline isn’t likely to make many Philadelphians who are interested in table games and slots very happy.
Stadium Casino Baltimore Investors LLC recently requested a three-year extension on the project’s expected launch. That would put the open date in December 2021.
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) regulators responded by offering a two-year extension.
That date would be mid-December 2020.
Even with a corporate restructuring, PGCB is adamant that two years should be plenty of time to complete construction.
If this all seems like quite a lot of hassle, you’re not alone.
But there’s a good reason for Cordish to be so committed to seeing Stadium Casino, as well as their mini-casino project, through to fruition.
But not just the potential profit they’ll be making — the millions they’ve already invested.
Combining the $74.75 million in slot machine and table games licensing fees with the $40.1 million to obtain its mini-casino license and the fee for a PA gambling license, and Cordish has already invested upwards of $150 million.
They’re surely hoping their next crack at the project doesn’t come with too many complications.