Trump May Build Slots Parlor in Philadelphia

After it emerges from bankruptcy later this month, Donald Trump's casino company says it is likely to try to open a slot-machine parlor in Philadelphia.

"It may happen, or it may not. But we're looking there," Trump said in a telephone interview from New York yesterday.

Trump's company has zeroed in on "one or two sites," according to Scott Butera, president and chief executive officer of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts.

One potential site is the former Budd Co. property in Nicetown, just south of the Roosevelt Expressway -- far from the Center City or riverfront areas that have been considered prime slots locations. The site is near Fox Street and Hunting Park Avenue.

The state Gaming Control Board is expected to select operators for two Philadelphia slot-machine parlors in 2006. A variety of casino operators are expected to seek a license.

The attraction of the 78-acre Budd site is that is close to the expressway and would allow for a large development, said State Rep. Jewell Williams (D., Phila.).

"I met with three gentleman from his corporation," Williams said. "They asked me how I felt about it if they moved into the community.

"I told him my concern was employment and jobs for local residents."

Butera would not say what other sites the Trump organization was considering.

"In a short period of time, we would like to be able to make an announcement," he said. "But right now, we're just meeting with a lot of people and assessing what we want to pursue."

A reorganization plan approved for Trump's casino company was OKd last month by a judge in U.S. bankruptcy court in Camden. The company is expected to emerge from bankruptcy on May 20.

Trump held an interest in a gambling site in the city's Fishtown section in the early 1990s, and he graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1968.

"I went to school there. I've lived there," he said. "It's a place I know very well."

Meanwhile, another potential casino operator has lost its option for a site at the former Navy Yard.

But developer Peter DePaul, the chairman of PTP Racing, formerly Philadelphia Trotter and Pacers, said negotiations to renew the lease were continuing with the site's owner, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp.

DePaul said his group, also led by businessman Manuel N. Stamatakis, has "a couple of casino companies very interested."

Trump operates three casinos in Atlantic City: Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza, and Trump Marina. Renovations are under way at all three properties as part of the plan.

Securing one of the two gambling licenses in Philadelphia would help to protect Trump's investments in Atlantic City.

"It's a good feeder market for Atlantic City," Butera said of a Philadelphia location. "It could create synergies."

Shawn Fordham, executive director of the city's gambling advisory board, said the state was not expected to accept applications for the two licenses until late this year or early next.