New law renders SugarHouse lawsuit moot
The state granted the proposed casino near the major Philadelphia casinos a license back in 2014. The Live! Casino project won out over several other bidders. However, a lawsuit held up progress on the $425 million casino.
Operators of SugarHouse, another Philadelphia-area casino, sued to stop the project. They claim Watche “Bob” Manoukian had too big an ownership stake in the new project. Per Pennsylvania law, there was a limit on casino ownership, so Manoukian, who is the majority owner of Parx Casino, could not be a major stakeholder in this new venture too.
That changed when Gov. Tom Wolf signed the gambling expansion bill into law on Monday. The new law removes the ownership parameters, rendering SugarHouse’s legal challenge nonexistent.
Even if it had not been in the law, SugarHouse was running out of options. Manoukian presented the money for the property to his sons as a gift. As such, the Pennsylvania Gambling Control Board (PGCB) ruled he did not have any ownership of the Stadium Casino project.
SugarHouse needed to appeal to the state Supreme Court to challenge the latest ruling. After the law passed this week, they instead chose to drop the suit. Now Stadium Casino owners should pay the $50 million casino licensing fee before the end of the month.
What are the plans for Stadium Casino?
The younger Manoukians, Greenwood Racing, and Cordish Company are all owners in the project. Cordish has experience with casinos in both Maryland and Florida, where they own Maryland Live! and two Seminole Hard Rocks in Florida, respectively.
Cordish also owns the entertainment complex XFINITY Live!, which is located in the heart of Philadelphia’s stadium district. The complex features a range of entertainment destinations and restaurants. Stadium Casino will become part of the entertainment complex as well.
Stadium Casino investors hope the roughly 8 million annual visitors to the area will happily take advantage of the casino just footsteps away from the venues.
Will their be sports betting in the middle of all these pro stadiums?
Part of the new gambling laws is a section that establishes Pennsylvania will offer sports betting if the federal law changes. Currently, the US Supreme Court is in the midst of a case between the pro sports leagues and the state of New Jersey questioning the legality of the Professionl and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
SCOTUS should rule on the case early in 2018. While all the lower courts sided with the leagues, legal experts think New Jersey is drawing very live to get the law overturned. If that happens, sports betting will immediately become legal in Pennsylvania.
If that does happen, Stadium Casino could offer sports betting just steps away from four professional sports teams. This may seem unheard of, but the leagues seem to be coming to terms with the idea sports betting is going to happen.
If so, the law also allows for mobile wagering. Should that happen, Stadium Casino and any other licensed casino could actually accept wagers on these teams from fans in the stands.
Will the new casino get into online gambling?
Once Stadium Casino’s owners pay the licensing fee on the new venture, the number of available online casino licenses will grow from 12 to 13. The law is written such that the number of Pennsylvania online casino licenses matches the number of brick and mortar casinos.
There is no confirmation Cordish and company will pursue a license. The conjecture within the industry is that they will though. Cordish is establishing a presence with entertainment and casino ventures throughout the Northeast. In this market, expanding on the ground generally means they will expand online where given the opportunity.
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