Las Vegas impresario Stephen A. Wynn has agreed in principal to take over the delayed Foxwoods Casino project in South Philadelphia.
Wynn Resorts has signed a non-binding agreement, outlining the terms and conditions for assuming control of the project from local investors and the Mashantucket Pequot tribe.
The original investors - called Philadelphia Entertainment and Development Partners - would still have a stake in the casino, but control would shift to the Wynn organization, sources said.
Stephen A. Cozen, a lawyer for the Foxwoods project, declined to comment on the status of the casino.
If a final deal is reached, it would salvage the stalled casino project on South Columbus Boulevard and bring a well-known international gaming brand to the city.
The deal comes at a critical time for the Foxwoods project.
The original investors are at risk of losing their license and need to find a new partner who can bring both money and leadership to the deal. Originally, the Mashantucket Pequot tribe was going to develop, finance and manage the casino. But today, the tribe, struggling with too much debt and a downturn in revenue, cannot lead the project.
At a hearing last Jan. 27, the seven-member Gaming Control Board gave the Foxwoods partners until March 3 to come up with a new design and financing.
They must present those details at a hearing this Wednesday. The board warned that if it is not satisfied with the plans, it could vote to revoke the license.
While the details of the agreement have not been made public, Wynn Resorts is expected to manage the casino and control more than 51 percent of the investment, sources said.
Under the original arrangement, local investors had 70 percent of the project, with the Connecticut tribe, which operates the Foxwoods Casino in southeastern Connecticut, controlling the rest.
The local investors include the family charities of three Philadelphia investors: sports team owner Lewis Katz; Center City developer Ron Rubin; and Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider. The businessmen have been steering the project for the past year.
Wynn Resorts, a publicly-traded corporation, was started by Wynn in 2002 and has opened luxury casinos in the Chinese city of Macao and Las Vegas. Wynn, 67, spent a lifetime in the gaming business, building his reputation on high-end properties like the Mirage, Bellagio and Treasure Island in Las Vegas.
Three years ago, local investors and the tribe won one of two licenses to build a slots parlor in Philadelphia in a highly-competitive bidding process.
But the project has faced intense neighborhood and political opposition from the start.