KING OF PRUSSIA PA – Back in 2006, when a group of residents from Limerick, Lower Pottsgrove and elsewhere successfully fought the Boyd Gaming Corp. casino project proposed for land on the south side of U.S. Route 422, the winners figured they had pretty much chased gambling out of the western Philadelphia suburbs.

As it turns out, they only moved it 16 miles east.

Bound for the convention center, 16 miles east of Sanatoga.

Bound for the convention center, 16 miles east of Sanatoga.

One of two slot machine operator licenses available to resort destinations in Pennsylvania was awarded Wednesday (April 8, 2009) by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to Valley Forge Convention Center Partners, the limited partnership that runs Montgomery County’s primary convention center at 1160 First Ave.

The license permits the company to install up to 500 slot machines. It estimates that, within five years, gross revenue from the slot machines will top $74 million annually. The center currently operates 488 hotel rooms on 850,000 square feet of property located across Route 422 from the Valley Forge National Historical Park.

“Despite the tightened credit market, Valley Forge was able to demonstrate that it has firm financial commitments for its project,” said Gaming Control Board Chairman Mary DiGiacomo Colins. The second Category 3 license, as it is called, may be headed to a resort in the Poconos, board sources said.

Documents that describe why the board favored Valley Forge over its competitors are expected to be issued soon. Under the state Gaming Act of 2004, any party with standing in the licensing decision has 30 days to appeal the board’s decision to State Supreme Court.

Under the act, properties that qualify for a Category 3 license must be well-established resort hotels in Pennsylvania with no fewer than 275 guest rooms under common ownership. They must be located at least 15 linear miles away from any other licensed slot machine casino, and offer “substantial year-round recreational guest amenities” on their premises.

Once the Valley Forge slots parlor is open, not just any Tom, Dick or Henrietta will be allowed to come inside. Its license specifies entry must be limited to the hotel’s registered overnight guests, patrons of its amenities (like a restaurant, night club, or possibly a convention), seasonal or year-round resort members, and authorized employees.

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