Philadelphia’s Stadium Casino Gets Sports Betting License, Plans to Take Bets Before Physical Casino Opens

Posted on: October 31, 2019, 02:24h. 

Last updated on: October 31, 2019, 03:00h.

Philadelphia’s “stadium casino” could be offering online sports betting before it officially exists, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Philadelphia stadium casino
After years of legal hold ups, the stadium casino (artist’s rendering pictured) is scheduled to be completed at the end of next year. But it could be offering sports betting long before that. (Image: Cordish Gaming Group)

The project that will be known as the Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia has been long in the making, and it isn’t scheduled to open in the city’s stadium district until the end of next year.

But on Wednesday, the casino’s developer, Cordish Gaming Group (CGG), received a sports betting certificate from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), which will allow it to launch online wagering as soon as it finds an operating partner.

The regulator agreed with CGG’s argument that the 2017 law that legalized online sports betting for Pennsylvania’s casinos does not prevent an existing gaming licensee from launching a sports book. That’s even if its bricks-and-mortar casino is little more than – well, bricks and mortar.

CGG has held a gaming license for the proposed casino since 2014, when it won it in an open bidding process as part of a joint application with Greenwood Gaming, which owns Pennsylvania’s biggest casino by revenue, Parx.

Close to Deal with Sports Betting Provider

The PGCB did rule, however, that CGG should have an operational land-based sports book on site before its online operations go live, which should be possible shortly. CGG representatives told regulators that they were close to finalizing a deal with an unnamed sports book operator.

CGG was less successful in its bid to have the sports betting certificate for the stadium casino also cover its “mini casino” in Westmoreland County, Western Pennsylvania, which the company is due to start building on November 13.

The state’s sports betting licensing fees are $10 million a pop, and CGG has previously said that forking out this fee for a small casino on the site of a former department store would be “economically unjustifiable.”

CGG representatives told the regulator they had assumed sports betting would be included when they paid $40.1 million last year for the mini-casino license – one of five made available by 2017 gambling expansion legislation.

The CGG appeared disinclined towards CGG’s argument, but deferred a final decision on the matter until its next hearing on November 20.

Legal Hold-Up

The stadium casino project has been delayed by years of legal wrangling, largely because of Greenwood Gaming’s stake in the venture.

One of the losing bidders in the 2014 tender, Market East Associates, along with the SugarHouse casino, sued to block the project under a 2004 law that prohibited a company from having an ownership interest in more than one casino in the state.

That law was repealed as part of the 2017 gaming reforms, which allowed construction to commence. CGG bought Greenwood out in November last year.