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Penn National drops proposal for Philly casino, leaving 4 applicants; cites crowded market

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PHILADELPHIA — Penn National Gaming Inc. has abandoned its bid to build a $480 million casino in south Philadelphia, leaving four applicants still in the running for the city's second casino license.

City officials' preference for a downtown casino contributed to the company's decision to withdraw its application with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, Penn National CEO Timothy Wilmott said in a news release Friday.

He also cited the region's crowded gambling market. Pennsylvania's southeastern corner already has four casinos, including the SugarHouse Casino along the Delaware River in Philadelphia, while competition from border states is intensifying.

"The market potential in Philadelphia is less today" than when the company filed its application, Wilmott said, "as a result of the ongoing gaming saturation in the mid-Atlantic region, as well as continued softness in the economy."

Wyomissing-based Penn National had proposed putting a Hollywood Casino near the sports stadiums in south Philadelphia. A nonprofit corporation would have owned two-thirds of the casino, distributing gambling revenue to Philadelphia schools and municipal pensions.

Two of the remaining applicants want to build in downtown Philadelphia, while two others propose building in south Philadelphia.

The city's existing casino, SugarHouse, contends the market already is saturated. Minority investors filed suit to stop Pennsylvania from awarding a second license, though a court tossed it out earlier this month.

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