Philadelphia May Become Largest U.S. City With Casino

State gambling regulators Wednesday cleared the way for Philadelphia to become the nation's largest city with a casino but rejected a bid for a proposal for a slots parlor near the historic Gettysburg battlefield.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board awarded two Philadelphia licenses to groups led by billionaire developer Neil G. Bluhm and by Connecticut-based Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

Among the applications the board rejected were a hotly contested proposal by a group led by Connecticut-based Silver Point Capital LP for a casino near the Gettysburg battlefield, an application by Donald Trump's Atlantic City, N.J.-based casino company for a casino in Philadelphia and a proposal by St. Louis-based casino operator Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. for a casino in Pittsburgh.

The board awarded a license in Pittsburgh to Detroit-based casino developer Don H. Barden.

The gaming board awarded 11 permanent slots licenses, each allowing as many as 5,000 machines. Six licenses are earmarked for the state's horse-racing tracks, while 13 applicants competed for the remaining five stand-alone licenses.

So far, two racetracks — Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and Philadelphia Park — already have opened slots parlors under conditional licenses, while racetracks in Chester and near Erie are expected to open slots parlors in the next two months.

Gov. Ed Rendell rejuvenated a 25-year drive to legalize casino-style gambling in Pennsylvania by promising that slots revenue would help reduce property taxes and revive the state's declining horse-racing industry. The law passed in 2004 authorized up to 61,000 slot machines at 14 sites.