Wozniak Bill Aims to Free Casino Licenses for Competition

HARRISBURG – State Sen. John N. Wozniak announced today he will introduce legislation that will allow open competition across the state for two long-dormant gaming licenses.

“There are plenty of developers who have the will and the means to get these licenses producing tax relief for Pennsylvania property owners,” Wozniak said. “Years of delay have cost taxpayers millions and there is no logical reason for it.”

Wozniak’s legislation would amend the state Gaming Control Act to allow developers to compete for licenses reserved for the defunct Foxwoods Casino in Philadelphia and the Valley View Downs project in Lawrence County.

Both projects have been delayed years by stalled development plans.

“Limiting those licenses to a particular region has been a prime factor in the stalling and delays,” Wozniak said. “Many parts of Pennsylvania would welcome such economic investment and the competition would force potential developers to bring their best game.”

The legislation follows a year-long effort by the Central Pennsylvania Democrat to free the licensing decisions from political influence and allow all regions of the state to be considered as potential sites for a casino.

“Rural Pennsylvania needs jobs and economic development as much as the rest of the state,” Wozniak said. “No doors should be closed.”

After Wozniak spent much of the last year urging the Gaming Control Board to revoke the license for the troubled Foxwoods Casino project in Philadelphia, the gaming control board did so last week by a 6-1 vote, leaving questions as to what happens with it. 

In May, Wozniak shepherded Senate Bill 831 through the Senate Community and Economic Development Committee.  It would have revoked the Foxwoods license and opened competition across the state but was never voted on by the full Senate.

In re-introducing the legislation, Wozniak will also include an amendment to the Gaming Act that will free a casino license now coupled with a harness racing license in Lawrence County, where a bankrupt project was recently sold at auction after three years of delays. 

“Limiting these licenses to certain geography has been a costly disaster,” Wozniak said. “Taxpayers deserve the best bang for their buck and they’re not getting it with such limitations.”

Since the Gaming Act has no provisions for redistribution of a revoked license, the former Foxwoods license could be tied up for years in litigation,” Wozniak said.

“My bill gives a map of where we go from here,” Wozniak said. “It will save money and create much-needed jobs at a much-faster pace.”

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