Pittsburgh casino fulfills USD 50 million license fee

Majestic Star Casino paid its USD 50 million licensing fee Monday for a North Shore slot machine parlor and said it welcomed an expedited timetable for the state Supreme Court to consider arguments by Pittsburgh’s sports teams about casino traffic.

The Detroit-based casino company paid the fee to the state Gaming Control Board, a board spokesman confirmed. The Supreme Court earlier this month rejected appeals by two losing bidders, affirming the company’s license. The court said the board took into consideration concerns raised about the company’s financial condition when it awarded the license in December.

„Where are all our critics who said we didn’t have the money?“ company spokesman Bob Oltmanns asked yesterday. „We put cash on the barrelhead, just like we said we would.“

In a separate appeal filed by the Steelers and Pirates, raising concerns about casino traffic, the Supreme Court issued a statement Friday saying it wants to speed up the process for hearing those arguments.

Lawyers for the teams, who appealed the city Planning Commission’s May approval of a casino development plan, must submit briefs by Aug. 17. The city and Majestic Star will have until Sept. 6 to respond.
That means the court process could coincide with a requirement by city planners for Majestic Star to complete a study of game day traffic by Sept. 30. The teams are concerned that casino traffic will slow fans coming to and returning from events at the North Shore stadiums.

„Anything that helps move this process forward as quickly as possible we view as a good thing,“ Oltmanns said.

Pending approval from the Planning Commission on Aug. 7 for the casino’s foundation and steel structure, work on the building could begin next month, Oltmanns said. Steel for the casino has started arriving on site.

Majestic Star expects to open late next year.

In Philadelphia, companies that won licenses for two slots parlors have not yet paid their licensing fees, which were due Friday. State gambling regulators scheduled a hearing on the issue for Sept. 6.

Despite the due date, SugarHouse Casinos and Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia said last week that lawmakers did not intend the license fees to be paid until the casinos are ready to be built. The partnerships argue that political opposition is preventing them from building and that the licenses are useless until Philadelphia City Council approves their proposals.