Commonwealth Court sides with gaming board over casino license

By Jim Boyle | Jun 18, 2014

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has the right to reissue a previously revoked

casino license to another entity, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled Monday.

The three-panel court rejected a suit filed by the minority owners of the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, which argued that the state agency only the authority to issue new licenses and revoke them, not reissue them after they had been taken back.

The SugarHouse Casino has been the only game in town since the state allowed gambling in 2004. Its license was issued in 2006, along with a second license issued to the Foxwoods casino group. However, lack of action on Foxwoods' planned facility on Columbus Boulevard prompted the state gaming board to revoke the license in 2010.

Five other casino companies are lobbying for that second license, including Greenwood Gaming, which operates Parx Casino in Bucks County. Representatives from SugarHouse Casino have appeared before the state gaming committee to argue that a second license would over-saturate the southeast Philadelphia market.

The court opined that not reissuing the license would run counter to the intent of the 2004 law that legalized gambling in Pennsylvania by holding the state back from generating as much revenue as possible. In the fiscal year of 2013-2014, SugarHouse has paid more than $57 million in state taxes from more than $169 million collected from slot machines and more than $10 million in taxes for $79 million collected from table games.

The SugarHouse investment group, RPRS Gaming LP, has 30 days to file an appeal with the state Supreme Court.

Led by attorney Richard Sprague, RPRS owns 33.65 percent of the casino, with High Penn Gaming LP as the majority owner with 66.25 percent.

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