Pennsylvania Regulators Approve Live! Casino Philadelphia

Live! Hotel Casino Philadelphia Approved

Maryland Live! Casino is another property of the Cordish Companies.

The Pennsyvlania Gaming Control Board redlighted the Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia, after delays caused by a lawsuit. The suit was filed by SugarHouse Casino and Market East Associates, who are rivals in the Philadelphia gaming market.

The Live! Casino sometimes is called the Stadium Casino, because it will sit next to the home of the Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field, and the home of the Philadelphia Phillies, Citizens Bank Park. Situated next to a high-traffic part of Philly, Live Casino’s developers (the Cordish Companies) expect to become a hub of business and gaming in the Philadelphia area.

The decision by the Gaming Control Board comes 4 years after the casino’s plans were approved. The SugarHouse Casino lawsuit delayed construction signficantly. For some time, the very project was in doubt.

Bob Manoukian’s Stake in Live! Casino

The plaintiffs argued that the inclusion of one of Live Casino’s owners, Watche “Bob” Manoukian, violated state law. Bob Manoukian owns 85% of the Parx Racetrack and Casino, a horse racing venue and slots parlor in Bensalem (bordering Philadelphia).

Pennsyvlania casino laws bars casino owners from having more than a 33.3% interest in a second casino. Manoukian, an Armenian-born American who made a fortune as a business agent for the royal family of Brunei, technically owns less than 33%. A holding company that owns significantly more than 33% lists his children as beneficiaries, clouding the ownership question.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Ruling

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled on the case in March 2016, stating that Stadium LLC’s ownership structure needed to receive a closer look by the Gaming Control Board. The 39-rule Supreme Court ruling said, “We must remand to the board for further proceedings with respect to this question.”

After a 17-month process, the board ruled on behalf of Stadium LLC yesterday. That means development on the $600 million complex should commence later this year. When it opens, the Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia will be located on the site of Holiday Inn at Ninth Street and Packer Avenue.

Approved by Control Board in 2014

The casino received initial approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in 2014. The City Planning Commission gave its approval in 2015. Since then, the City of Philadelphia approved the necessary construction and zoning permits. Everything now appears to be in place for the construction phase.

Live Casino Philadelphia should be a hub of activity in the city. Its hotel will feature 200 hotel rooms and suites. The gaming space will contain 2,000-plus slot machines and over 100 table games. The remainder of the complex will feature restaurants, amenities, and a 2,600-car garage.

Cordish Companies Building Project

The Cordish Companies is known for its Live! entertainment districts, including XFINITY Live!, Kansas City Live!, Cleveland Live!, Fox Sports Midwest Live!, and Texas Live!. Maryland Live! Casino has been the most successful casino in Maryland, though the MGM National Harbor near Washington D.C. is mounting a serious challenge. It also has Live! projects as far afield as Madrid, Spain.

The company is known for major constructions around the world, including the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa (and Hollywood), the Power Plant of Hampton Roads, the Kansas City Power & Light District, Waterside District in Norfolk, and Riverside on the James. The Cordish Companies also boas the One Light Luxury Apartments and Two Light Luxury Apartments in Kansas City, Spark Baltimore, and Towson Square in Towson, Maryland.

Given the experience in casino management and various other construction projects, the Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia should be a first class resort and gaming venue. SugarHouse might not have been able to stop the new competitor entirely, but its lawsuit delayed the project several years. Despite the delaying action, it was probably a foregone conclusion that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board would approve Live! Casino’s development plan in the end.