Greenwood Gaming Inc., owner of Philadelphia Park Casino and Racetrack, promised residents of Bucks County and Bensalem - not to mention Pennsylvania's horse-racing industry - a multimillion-dollar casino to draw even more people to the racetrack.
Now, the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association says, Greenwood is trying to renege on that promise.
"Greenwood Gaming made elaborate promises to area residents, local elected officials and the gaming board to gain their support and obtain a gaming license," said Michael P. Ballezzi, the association's executive director. "Now the company is backtracking on its promises."
Greenwood, which obtained a temporary license in 2006, filed an application April 5 with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to have the license made permanent.
The petition stated that Greenwood needed more time to expand Philadelphia Park Casino because the "facility would not be able to meet market demand, nor provide the level of service and amenities required - even on a temporary basis."
The company says it wants to buy time by having the existing 1,250 slot machines serve as the casino it promised the state - then expand to 3,000 slot machines in the future.
But the horsemen's association says the casino is giving up on its promise to build a larger facility, with a spa, shops, and a world-class restaurant.
"This is a classic bait-and-switch," said Ballezzi.
Andrew Becker, spokesman for Philadelphia Park Casino, said, "The petition to make the temporary facility permanent is an effort by the casino to get more time to build a larger and more expansive property."
Becker said Philadelphia Park had two years to complete its permanent facility.
Becker added that the company already has invested $171 million in its casino project and now proposes to invest an additional $15 million over the next few months, which will include all of the resort amenities such as a spa, shops, and restaurants.
Doug Harbach, spokesman for the gaming board, said the petition "is under review by the board."
Pete Peterson, a spokesman for the horsemen's association, said the casino has an obligation to make good on its promises.
"Bensalem's mayor [Joseph DiGirolamo] promised a reduction in the property taxes for his residents based upon revenue that would be generated from this casino," Peterson said. "If the casino doesn't complete the project, then the impact would be immense on the tax base in Bucks County."