Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN:US) said it’s withdrawing an application to open a casino in Philadelphia, citing looming competition after voters in New York approved plans to expand gambling in their state.
Wynn Resorts was one of six applicants seeking a license in Pennsylvania’s most-populous city. The company’s project, estimated to cost $926 million, was part of a strategy that founder Steve Wynn described as an effort to build grand hotels in major cities.
“The board took a host of factors into consideration, including the Philadelphia market performance over the past year and the competition which will result from the recent approval of gaming in the State of New York,” Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts said today in a statement.
Casino expansion drives in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New York raise the prospect of saturation in the region. Atlantic City, New Jersey, has suffered from declining gambling revenue for the past six years, in part because of competition from neighboring states.
Pennsylvania, which passed New Jersey last year to become the state with the second-largest casino business after Nevada, is seeking to award a 13th casino license for an operator in Philadelphia. Others seeking the permit include Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN:US) and Isle of Capri Casinos Inc (ISLE:US).
Pennsylvania’s casino revenue fell 1.5 percent to $2.37 billion in the nine months through September, according to Bloomberg Industries research.
Wynn Resorts rose 0.8 percent to $165.03 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 47 percent this year, compared with a 24 percent advance in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. (SPX)
New Yorkers voted Nov. 5 to allow as many as seven casinos in their state. Wynn is also considering a $1.2 billion casino project in Everett, Massachusetts, outside Boston.
Wynn, whose company operates casinos in Las Vegas and in the Chinese enclave of Macau, said on an Oct. 24 conference call he was frustrated with casino licensing in the U.S. after Massachusetts investigators recommended that Caesars Entertainment Corp. (CZR:US) not be permitted in that state.
“You know that we are primarily an Asian company,” Wynn told investors. “Thank goodness, and God bless that, and we intend to stay an Asian company primarily.”
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