Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia is coming to life. However, they still do not have final approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). The long-in-the-making casino has faced a number of hurdles including:

  • An appeal by SugarHouse Casino and three other applicants regarding their licensure.
  • Opposition from African-American community groups due to allegations of racial discrimination at other Cordish-owned properties.
  • A three-year court slog over a state law prohibiting any casino owner from owning more than a one-third interest in another casino within the state.

Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia lived to fight another day by committing to a community benefits agreement promising work to minorities. The court battle ended in October 2017, when the state repealed the casino ownership laws as a part of its new gambling expansion laws.

PGCB held hearing to renew Stadium Casino project license

At the PGCB meeting on July 10, Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia faced another hurdle – the renewal of their Category 2 License.

Despite not opening their doors, or even having doors, the PGCB is required to conduct a license renewal every five years. And, yes, it has been five long winding years since Live! initially received licensure.

The biggest issue surrounding the renewal of the license is possible traffic problems. PGCB and Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia reps discussed additional congestion to the area, sporting event and peak casino times, and the possible addition of a freeway ramp.

After a lengthy discussion, PGCB decided to table the renewal of Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia’s license.

“Obviously, there was a lot of new information brought to our attention today. Specifically relating to traffic and the (possible) existence or non-existence of a ramp. Hopefully between now and our next meeting we can fully evaluate the information we’ve been given and come back at our August meeting and be able to rule on the entire matter at that time,” commented PGCB Chairman David M. Barasch.

Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia and Philadelphia road woes

Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia responded to all the recommendations by PGCB traffic engineering consultant, Orth-Rogers & Associates to Traffic Impact Studies prior to license award. Orth-Rogers concluded that the local road and transit infrastructure are sufficient to handle the proposed uses.

Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia received recognition by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation at a Board suitability hearing that a new I-76 West on-ramp was not on the state Transportation Improvement Program. Moreover, it had not been subject to even a preliminary study.

When the PGCB issued the license in 2017, it defined the ramp condition as studying the ramp.

“In order to comply with the requirement, Stadium Casino, LLC shall, within 10 business days of the execution of these conditions, contact all appropriate authorities…to discuss this requirement and begin the process of implementing same if determined to be feasible by said transportation authorities.”

Reps from Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia explained that city and permits are satisfied. Planned traffic mitigation upgrades includes:

  • Replacement and upgrade of traffic signals at three intersections on Packer Avenue;
  • Installation of new cabling from Broad Street to 7th Street signal to enable communication with Philadelphia Police/Streets Department/PADOT area Traffic Command Center;
  • Agreement that Streets Department/Police Department Stadium Large Event Traffic Plan covers traffic ingress and egress to the casino and hotel property.

However, the City of Philadelphia does not believe the 7th Street site is viable.

“The City also recognizes that the location under discussion by the Gaming Control Board at 7th Street has challenges of its own. The dimensions of the property would require of design waivers from federal standards. That location would also place merging traffic in very proximity to the off-ramp at Broad Street, creating then potential for a dangerous weave condition between merging and exiting traffic on 76.”

A look at Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia

Representatives for Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia displayed renderings of the casino which is being touted as “the first comprehensive gaming, resort, entertainment and sports destination in the United States.”

The $700 million 1.5 million sq. ft. complex is slated to offer:

  • 2200 slot machines
  • 125 live action table games
  • 30 poker tables
  • 4 restaurants
  • A sportsbook

Located in the heart of Philadelphia’s major sports complex, it should come as no surprise that Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia will have sports betting. Reps from Live! said are still considering operators for the sportsbook.

Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia claims to be the largest initial development of any casino in Pennsylvania. The project investment has increased from $450 million to $700 million. Also, to date, $254 million in equity has been invested in license fees, land acquisition, A&E, and construction.

Timeline of Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia

Nov.18, 2014: Award of licensure
Dec. 18, 2014: Appeal of license filed
Oct. 31, 2017: PA Supreme Court Notice of discontinuance of appeal
Nov. 15, 2017: Payment of $50 million slots license fee
Dec. 13, 2017: Issuance of license
Jan. 12, 2018: Zoning and user registration
Jan. 20, 2018: Closing on purchase of 900 Packer Avenue
Jan. 26, 2018: Payment of 40.1 million Category 4 license fee
April 2, 2018: Construction drawing submitted to city
April 3, 2018: Demolition permit issued
June 27, 2018: Payment of 24.75 million table games license fee
Sept. 5, 2018: Arts commission approval
Dec. 2018: Building permit issued
March 2019: Demolition complete
March 2019: Foundations poured
June 2019: Erecting of pre-cast and steel