November 18th, 2014 was a significant date in Pennsylvania casino history because it was the date a new casino, to be built in South Philadelphia, was officially awarded its license to operate. More than 2 years after that date, however, the approved casino is no closer to opening its doors to patrons. As you might have expected, the reasoning for this egregious delay has everything to do with Pennsylvania’s legal system and opponents to the casino’s construction.
When we discuss the delays regarding this South Philadelphia casino, we cannot do so without mentioning SugarHouse and Market East Associates. The reason for this, according to Philly.com, is that both of the aforementioned entities have appealed to the PA Supreme Court to halt this plan’s moving forward and to revoke the awarded license.
SugarHouse opposes this casino because it will bring about increased competition for their casino, which opened its doors in 2010 a short drive north of the proposed South Philly casino. Market East is in opposition to the deal because they want to build a casino of their own in the same general area.
For local residents who do not like the idea of a casino moving in next door, these appeals have been great news. Apart from their potential to derail plans to build the casino altogether, the appeal process has simply delayed any and all construction efforts. Back in 2014, organizers were hopeful that the casino—which will be located very close to the Philadelphia Phillies’ home stadium—would have opened its doors by now. Clearly, those hopes were dashed a long while ago.
While the more than 2-year delaying halting the construction of Philadelphia’s second casino may seem crazy, it really isn’t. Every PA casino that is not attached to a racetrack has seen plenty of opposition, and all of them overcame and are operating today.
Unfortunately, there is no real way to tell when the PA Supreme Court will make a decision. If the ruling is handed down in favor of Stadium Casino LLC, the group behind the casino idea, construction can begin within a month or two. Despite this, we would still be looking at an optimistic 15-month timeline before the site would open its doors to gamblers.
Something else that has been tossed around and will likely play into the Supreme Court’s eventual decision is whether or not Philadelphia has enough of a gambling market to justify the construction of a second casino. With one casino located in Philadelphia and a handful of others located within a 30 minute drive, SugarHouse has consistently claimed that the market is already heavily saturated and that a new casino would only work to hurt the market as a whole. Still, Stadium Casino LLC is going nowhere quickly and seems to be steadfast in their belief that not only does a casino belong within close proximity to Philadelphia sporting venues, but that it will, eventually, come to fruition. This is yet another court battle that we will keep a close eye on. Regardless, no matter what way you flip it, it is truly astounding that more than 2 years after a license was awarded, ground has still not been broken. There is strong hope that this will change soon, but there is very little evidence to support this hope at the present moment in time.