By Andy Medici
On Friday, Nov. 14, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board officially presented the new casino owners with a license to operate the casino. Wearing suits and hard hats, members of the PCGB and Holdings Acquisition Co. along with local politicians walked out of the casino construction site to be greeted by more than 20 reports from various news outlets.
Important figures involved in the handover each spoke to the array of microphones and notepads before, stressing both PGCBs decision to transfer the license and that the current financial crisis would not affect the construction or operations of the casino.
Mary Colins, the PGCB Chairwoman, said that she was happy to make the license representation. She thanked everyone attending and commented on the weather before focusing on the Board’s decision to transfer the license after PITG Gaming couldn’t meet its financial obligations.
“We made a tough deicision a while ago,” Colins said. “This was the right place for the Casino in Pittsburgh. “
She added that the Board carefully reviewed Holdings Acquisition’s proposal and decided that it would be good to bring in the new ownership. She said that because of the Board’s decision “we have a project that is being completed and is back on schedule.”
“We’re going to have a magnificent project and we couldn’t have asked for a better place,” Colins said.
Dan Fee, a spokesman for Holdings Acquisition Co. said that if the Board had gone through the process all over again and reissued the bid, there would be no takers. He added that the company has secured all necessary financing and the recent economic downturn would not affect construction.
He also said that much of the revenue goes to the city, and that the casino would eventually put more than 1,000 people to work in various capacities, and that the hiring process on senior positions had already begun.
Pennsylvania State Senator Wayne Fontana said that “we’re going to have one of the most magnificent entertainment complexes that Pittsburgh has ever seen.” And that this sort of attraction would bring people into the city.
Neil Bluhm, the Founding Principal of Walton Street Capital, one of the groups that joined together to form Holdings Acquisition, said that the project was moving forward, and that despite a tough economy they are maintaining a positive outlook for the future.
Asked whether the company was worried about revenue projections because of the slumping economy, Bluhm pointed to the ever-popular Steelers as an example.
“People still want to go to a football game, they still want to have fun,” Bluhm said. “I think this would be one of the most exciting places in Pittsburgh.”
In a related note, Fee later announced that the name of the casino will not be the “Majestic Star” as the original owner had intended, but will instead be called “Rivers Casino.”
“We have preliminarily selected the name ‘Rivers Casino’ for our Pittsburgh development and that is why it was included in our submission to the Planning Commission,” Fee said in a press release.
“We selected the name because it reflects the integral role the rivers have had in shaping Pittsburgh’s history and character. We believe our location and development along the Ohio River is as unique as Pittsburgh.”