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Fines dished out at Foxwoods' Philadelphia project

By Brian Hallenbeck

Publication: The Day

Published January 28. 2010 4:00AM   Updated January 28. 2010 6:25AM

Delays in the Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia project are now costing developers $2,000 a day - retroactive to Dec. 1.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board imposed the fine Wednesday, rejecting Philadelphia Entertainment and Development Partners' request for more time to submit documents detailing its plans to build a casino on the Delaware riverfront in South Philadelphia.

Through Wednesday, 58 days since Dec. 1, the fine amounted to $116,000, according to Doug Harbach, a spokesman for the gaming board, which met Wednesday in Harrisburg. The developers will incur an additional $2,000 each day they fail to file the required renderings and a time-line for completion of the project, Harbach said.

The gaming board also scheduled a March 3 hearing at which it could impose further sanctions up to and including the revocation of the casino license for the project, Harbach said. The hearing would not be held if the developers file the required documents before then, he said.

Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which is seeking to restructure a debt load of more than $2 billion and whose Foxwoods Development Co. is a minority partner in the Philadelphia casino project, said the tribe remains committed to it. The tribe owns Foxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand at Foxwoods.

"We respect the (gaming) board's position and will work with them," Butler said during a meeting with The Day's editorial board. "We still believe it's an amazing opportunity and an amazing project."

The developers had filed for an extension of the Dec. 1 deadline on Nov. 30.

In September, the gaming board granted a two-year extension of the casino license for the project, ordering that it be built as originally proposed at a site approved in 2006. Developers had since considered two other downtown sites. The extension called for a temporary facility with 1,500 slot machines to be up and running by May 2011. A new law legalizing table games at Pennsylvania's slot parlors contains a provision authorizing the gaming board to extend Foxwoods' deadline for opening to 2012. The developers have not said whether they would need the additional time.

Local investors in the project, who include New Jersey businessman Lewis Katz, developer Ron Rubin and Ed Snider, chairman of Comcast Spectacor, which owns the Philadelphia Flyers and the Philadelphia 76ers, have indicated they are close to announcing a deal with a major investor who has the wherewithal to build a larger, permanent facility.

The investors provided the gaming board with no additional information about the potential partner Wednesday, other than to say it was "an international gaming firm," Harbach said.

The investors did indicate they have lined up a builder for the project, Keating Construction, which has worked on a number of casino projects in Pennsylvania, including SugarHouse, which is under construction in Philadelphia, the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Harbach said.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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