The long-delayed South Philly casino will now be called the "Horseshoe," but really "Rodeo Lasso" would be more appropriate, not just because it hopes to rope in gamblers, but because the project is one big circle.
The casino company Bally's put down a bet 15 years ago on 16 acres of vacant land between the Delaware River and Columbus Boulevard at Reed Street. Bally's paid $20 million in options for 10 years, thinking at first the plot would be a good parking lot for proposed riverboat gambling.
Bally's became Caesars Entertainment, which put down an additional $45 million to purchase the land in 2005, six months after the state legalized casinos in 2004.
Caesars was absorbed in 2005 by Harrah's Entertainment, which already had a casino planned for Chester. Harrah's allowed a group of local investors to put down a note to pay $52.2 million for the land once it opened a "Foxwoods" casino in partnership with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation of Connecticut.
The tribe then ran into serious financial trouble. The local investors stumbled when their first replacement partner, casino developer Steve Wynn, signed on to take over the project earlier this year and then stunned them by dropping out of the deal.
So here comes Harrah's - which last month changed its name to Caesars - to save the project, just as the state Gaming Control Board is considering revoking the South Philly casino license.
Caesars plans to brand the casino Horseshoe, which is part of another brand it controls - Bally's.
- Chris Brennan