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Steve Wynn Seeks 51% Majority Stake In Foxwoods Stalled Casino Project;
Gaming Board Continues to Levy $2K Per Day in Fines

By Eric Gershon, The Hartford Courant, Conn.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Mar. 4, 2010--Casino magnate Steve Wynn presented himself to Pennsylvania gaming officials Wednesday as the savior for a stalled Philadelphia casino project started by Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Wynn, whose company, Wynn Resorts, has signed a tentative deal to become the managing general partner of the development group behind Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia, said he would take a 51 percent stake in the project.

It was not immediately clear how the involvement of the New Haven-born Wynn would affect the stake of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which owns Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.

In a statement Wednesday evening, the tribe did not address the issue. "Wynn Resorts is recognized around the globe as a premier developer of casino resorts," it said. "We are confident that its role in the Philadelphia waterfront casino project is a positive outcome for all parties involved."

The tribe has been struggling to renegotiate billions of dollars in debt amid a prolonged nationwide slump in gambling revenues. A deal with Wynn could help the tribe's financial situation.

About 150 building trades workers cheered as Wynn arrived at a hearing of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in Harrisburg, according to The Philadelphia Daily News.

Anti-casino demonstrators, who repeatedly interrupted Wynn during his presentation, were ejected, according to news reports from the scene.

The original Foxwoods group, Philadelphia Entertainment and Development Partners, was scheduled to tell the board why it should be allowed to keep the license allowing it to develop the casino. The group has failed to meet several project deadlines, and several Pennsylvania legislators had called upon the board to strip its license.

On Wednesday, the board said it would continue to levy a daily $2,000 fine, but did not strip the license, according to a Gaming Control Board spokesman. The Foxwoods group on Tuesday paid a $186,000 fine, spokesman Richard McGarvey said.

Wynn told the board that he has the money and the ideas necessary to execute the casino project in South Philadelphia, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Under its Pennsylvania license, Foxwoods must open its Philadelphia gambling facility with at least 1,500 slot machines by May 29, 2011. It won the license in 2006, but is behind schedule.

The board did not change that date or officially sanction Wynn's involvement, McGarvey said, but it could do so in the future.

In a previous statement on Wynn's involvement, the Pequots said: "The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Foxwoods Development Company are pleased to welcome Wynn Resorts to the Philadelphia waterfront casino project. We believe this is a win-win outcome for Foxwoods Philadelphia, as well as for our local partners, the City of Philadelphia and State of Pennsylvania."

Wynn Resorts owns and operates Wynn Las Vegas, Encore in Las Vegas and Wynn Macau.

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Copyright (c) 2010, The Hartford Courant, Conn.

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