May 20th 2015, Joseph G. Procacci the South Philadelphia tomato king is getting back in the game after he lost his bid for Philadelphia’s second casino license six months ago.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board voted to give Endeka Entertainment a six month extension to finalize a new deal and finance for the Lawrence Downs Casino and Racing Resort, which is a $225 million development that has been planned for outside New Castle in Mahoning Township.
Procacci who is 87 years old and his partner who were part of Casino Revolution, which was rejected, have reached an initial agreement with Merit Management Group to save the Western Pennsylvania casino, which has been on the drawing board for the past two years according to officials.
The Lawrence County project has been delayed because of the partnership; Endeka Entertainment L.P. as they have failed to deliver documents that state regulators need, so that the group and the financing plan can be investigated. The Philadelphia investors group is led by Manuel Stamatakis, an insurance executive and they back the project.
Penn National Gaming Inc., which became the general partner two years ago in the $225 million Lawrence Downs Casino and Racing Resort, said last month that it wants to end its involvement because of the softness in the economy and the level of market saturation that is apparent in gaming.
On Wednesday, at a regularly scheduled hearing, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board considered the withdrawal by Penn National and the extension that Endeka had requested. Penn was allowed to withdraw and the extension was granted by unanimous vote.
It was expected that Procacci would be taking the place of Penn National as the general partner.
He would then be responsible for the securing of finances. The development of the casino and racetrack would be handled by Merit Management and will also manage it until after it opens.
John O’Riordan, who is a lawyer for Procacci said that the financial details are being worked out, but they are not at the moment in a position to discuss them. He also said that they are confident that they will get the project financed and will be built on budget.
Penn National’s $50 million from a Lawrence County bond sale was released by the commission Wednesday.
O’Riordan said yesterday that if the extension is granted by the board then Procacci will post another bond so that the project can keep moving.
Endeka and its partners will now have until the 20th of November to finalize the deal and financing. There have also been a number of provisions set that will need to be met in order to keep the Lawrence Downs project alive. These will include the background of applicants, which was an earlier deadline and also a detailed progress report, which will need to be provided on a monthly basis.