Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Flashy Pitches Roll in for Casino License Permit Would Be Philadelphia's Second

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Flashy Pitches Roll in for Casino License Permit Would Be Philadelphia's Second

Article excerpt

The half-dozen applicants for Philadelphia's second casino license touted the merits of their proposals before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board last week.

Flashy videos with images of the city's skyline, its iconic attractions and its smiling residents were standard fare.

The first four groups -- led by local developer Ken Goldenberg, South Philadelphia businessman Joseph Procacci, a partnership between regional casino operators Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment Inc. and Cordish Cos., and gaming giant Penn National Gaming Inc. -- gave it their best shot. In 50-minute presentations given Tuesday, each boasted that its project had the best location, that it was the easiest to get to and from, that it would hire the most diverse workforce and generate the most gaming revenue for city and state, and that it had more "real Philadelphians" behind it than the others.

Then Steve Wynn appeared and enraptured the room.

By the time Mr. Wynn was set to present at 2:15 p.m, it was standing-room only in Room 103A. Many leaned forward so they would not miss a word from the man who jokes with his inner circle that "it's good to be king."

Mr. Wynn was just that during his allotted time. One could hear a pin drop as he spoke in a relaxed, polished manner, as if he were describing what he had for breakfast instead of engaging in a fierce competition.

"Let me start from the beginning," said the son of a bingo hall operator. "A slot machine is a slot machine is a slot machine. Damn things all look alike.

"Buildings and stuff matter. But it's people that make people happy. It's about human resource engineering," he said. "It's about giving people the best restaurant, the best hotel, the best experience. That's what it's all about."

He said Wynn Philadelphia, proposed for 70 acres in Fishtown, would deliver that and more. He touted his track record of five- star hotels at casino properties in Las Vegas and Macau. Then he rolled out his own video, showing what one of the 900-square-foot suites at Wynn Philadelphia's all-suites hotel would look like, as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin sang in the background.

The audience cheered. About half the room followed Mr. Wynn out the door to his own hospitality suite at the Convention Center.

Local developer Bart Blatstein, whose presentation was the sixth of six, acknowledged that he was a little nervous about presenting his project after Mr. Wynn.

"That's just great. I have to follow Frank Sinatra," Mr. Blatstein quipped.

He framed his project, a $700 million, French-style village called the Provence, as the culmination of a career that began more than 30 years ago with the renovation of a row house in Queen Village.

He said he bought the former home of The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com at 400 N. Broad St. in 2011 as a "bookend" to the state office building at Broad and Spring Garden. …

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