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Wynn pulls Philadelphia casino project

12 April 2010

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania -- Casino developer Steve Wynn spent more than an hour Monday meeting with the mayor of Philadelphia, touting his plan for what he had said would be the "cutest place we ever built" on a waterfront gaming site along the Delaware River.

Wynn, chairman of Wynn Resorts Ltd., even delivered a package of color renderings of the proposed $600 million casino-only development to state gaming regulators, three weeks ahead of schedule.

On Thursday, in a two-paragraph statement after the stock markets closed for trading, Wynn said he was canceling plans for the project.

"We are fascinated by the legalization of full gaming in Pennsylvania and stimulated by the opportunity that it presents for Wynn Resorts, but this particular project did not, in the end, present an opportunity that was appropriate for our company," Wynn said in the statement.

The state and city would take more than half of the new casino's slot revenues and 16 percent of its table game revenues.

Wynn declined comment beyond the statement.

The news surprised his partners in the project. Wynn became the managing general partner in the casino site that was originally called Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia because the partnership included the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal National, which operates the Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut.

"I'm in a state of shock," Stephen Cozen, a lawyer for the original Foxwoods investors, told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Thursday.

Cozen said he heard the news at the same time as the public.

"We're trying to find out what the reasons are for this and determine what, if anything, can be done about it," he said. "That's the only comment I can make."

The project had been delayed for more than a year because Foxwoods was unable to complete the financing.

Most analysts said Wynn, whose company operates Wynn Las Vegas, Encore and the Wynn Macau, would be able to finance the casino easily.

However, at a public hearing last month in front of state regulators, Wynn was met with skepticism by anti-gaming advocates, despite having gained support from local building and trade unions.

The Inquirer's editorial board also came out against the development, saying the planned 3,000 slot machines and table games would be "preying mostly on the poor and elderly who can least afford it."

During a quarterly earnings conference call in February, Wynn said the Philadelphia casino wouldn't be "slots in a box. It will be a Wynn signature presentation with all the bells and whistles."

Wynn told analysts he had been spending "8 or 9 hours a day" working on the project.

Wynn pulls Philadelphia casino project is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.