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City Revokes License to SugarHouse Casino

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January 28, 2008

PHILADELPHIA New Mayor Michael Nutter reversed a decision by former Mayor Street and revoked the city license granted to the SugarHouse Casino to build a $550 million slot-machine casino along the Delaware River. The decision is a significant setback for the project.

Mayor Nutter explained his decision in an afternoon press conference. He felt the license had been "issued in error" and "unnecessarily rushed." He made these points:

  • There was inadequate consideration to the "riparian lands" issue for the part of the casino to be built over the river.
  • Plans presented to the Planning Commission were not identical to the description SugarHouse gave the state Gaming Control Board.
  • Traffic, parking, and other citizen concerns were not given enough time for thorough consideration.
  • There was only one hearing before issuing the license which Nutter called "an abuse of a discretion."

Nutter added that SugarHouse has 30 days to appeal to the Philadelphia Commerce Director for a public hearing.

The SugarHouse developer, HSP Gaming L.P., responded in a statement that the city's action is "contrary to law" because of pending litigation. "We fully expect the City, regardless of a change in its administration, to honor all of its contractual obligations We are disappointed by these actions and will seek the appropriate relief immediately."

The SugarHouse project includes a 220,000-square-foot casino with 5,000 slot machines, a 750-room hotel and a 500-room hotel, and a 2,600-car parking structure.

In a related but separate city decision Thursday, the $560 million Foxwoods Casino project also received a setback when the City Council proposed new environmental and economic requirements be met before they vote on zoning issues. It requires Foxwoods to meet a list of conditions for independent studies on traffic, public safety, storm water, and businesses in surrounding neighborhoods, before issuing Commercial Entertainment District zoning for their casino.

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