For months we have referenced the thirteenth Pennsylvania casino. In fact, even though Stadium Casino was still in the earliest stages of construction, it was highly active in the gambling expansion process. It applied for a mini-casino. It applied for an interactive gaming license package as well.
However, now, the word on the street is the project is no more. Roger Gros of Global Gaming Business was the first to Tweet about a potential demise of Stadium Casino, previously known as Philly Live!:
Sources are telling us that the Philly Live! casino project is dead in the water. The two owners, Cordish and Parx, will ask permission from the PA gaming board to sell the license. No confirmation yet, but very reliable source.
— Roger Gros (@GlobalGamingBiz) October 19, 2018
Chris Krafcik of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming chimed in to confirm he had heard the supposed news as well.
Stadium Casino consists of many moving parts
Westmoreland Mall mini-casino
Selling its $50 million casino license is just one of several components at play if this new turns out to be true.
Casino co-owners Greenwood Gaming and Cordish were one of the first to take advantage of the opportunity to obtain a license for a satellite casino. The company spent another $40.1 million to select a site near Derry, PA. This past July, the group announced it found a site inside Westmoreland Mall.
In fact, it looked like things were moving so quickly on the mini-casino front that it might open before its parent casino did.
Selling the main license will likely need to include the mini-casino in a package deal. Stadium Casino LLC has already put up the $40 million for the property though, so expect that amount to be accounted for in any sale of the satellite property.
Interactive gaming licenses
Another thing to account for is the $10 million in PA online casino license applications pending with the PGCB. Stadium Casino LLC is currently one of three casino companies waiting for interactive license approval. Seven casinos already have conditional approval to move forward on online casino plans.
Mohegan Sun Pocono, Presque Isle Downs, and Stadium Casino are the three properties who have not presented interactive plans to the board. A fourth, Rivers Casino, rescinded its application earlier this month.
Stadium Casino can go the same route Rivers did and pull its application, which would be a good indicator the company is giving up on its PA gaming plans. If that happens, Stadium’s licenses would go into the pool of available licenses for qualified outside gaming entity applicants, bringing the total licenses available to 13.
However, another option would be to take the tact of Sands Bethlehem. The Bensalem property is still in flux as a result of the pending sale to Wind River Hospitality. So, when called to appear before PGCB, Sands representatives appeared and announced they were merely holding a spot for new ownership.
In other words, if Stadium does not rescind this application, it does not mean the rumor is false. It is only when the casino discusses its plans in front of PGCB that we will get a clearer picture of the Philadelphia casino project’s future.
Who might buy Stadium Casino if it is for sale?
Sure, the evidence Stadium Casino is dead is minimal. Nonetheless, it does not hurt to start speculating at who could come in and take up the project.
The Stadium Casino site is an extremely appealing one. It is in the middle of Stadium Park, near the homes of all of the Philadelphia pro sports teams. It is also situated next to Xfinity Live! dining and entertainment area.
For a casino company pursuing sports betting, the location is about as ideal as they come. Certainly, the expectation is most betting will take place on mobile, but placement near the teams is great for retail bettors and for marketing efforts.
The first name that comes to mind as a potential buyer is MGM Resorts. After all, the casino company was supposedly deep in negotiations to buy Sands Bethlehem prior to the Wind River deal.
MGM a good fit for Stadium Casino project
MGM has a strategic partnership with Valley Forge owner Boyd Gaming to get entree to sports betting in the state. However, the single-skin parameter of sports betting regulations could put a damper in that plan. Being its own PA casino license owner would allow MGM to apply for its own $10 million PA sports betting license.
It would also strengthen the company’s online casino position. MGM online casinos are already operational in New Jersey under the Borgata and playMGM brands. Additionally, MGM offers the playMGM mobile betting app in both New Jersey and Nevada.
Finally, MGM taking over the project would be another jewel in a strong Northeastern US portfolio. The company already has Borgata in Atlantic City and MGM National Harbor in Maryland. The company also has a presence in Ohio and in Massachusetts through the newly opened MGM Springfield property. A Pennsylvania casino helps cement the company’s status as the preeminent casino company in the region.
Of course, for now, all of this is conjecture. However we will certainly be keeping a close eye on the project for signs one way or the other.