State unveils casino investors
Share with others:
HARRISBURG -- The ownership stakes of investors in the three groups competing for Pittsburgh's lone casino license were released yesterday, and some well-known names are in the mix.
Former Steelers running back Franco Harris has a 4 percent stake in Station Square Gaming, the group headed by Forest City Enterprises that wants to put a casino at Station Square.
Detroit businessman Don Barden, who wants to put a casino on the North Shore, has countered with an investment group that includes Motown singer William "Smokey'' Robinson, now of California, and the parents of just-retired Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, Johnnie and Gladys Bettis of Detroit.
The third competitor for the Pittsburgh license is 100 percent owned by Isle of Capri Casinos, which is working with the Penguins to build a casino in the Lower Hill.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board yesterday released the names and percentage stakes of dozens of investors in 22 different groups across the state that are vying for 14 slots licenses that will be issued this year.
Seven licenses will go for racetrack/casinos, five for stand-alone casinos (including the one in Pittsburgh and two in Philadelphia), and two for resort hotel casinos, likely to be at Nemacolin Woodlands and Seven Springs.
Station Square Gaming's biggest investor is Cleveland-based Forest City, at a 75 percent stake. Besides Mr. Harris, other prominent Pittsburghers with small stakes in the venture include lawyer Glenn Mahone, chairman of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, at 2 percent; businessman William Lieberman, a former member of a state watchdog group overseeing Pittsburgh's finances, at 9 percent; investment executive Charles Zappala, also at 9 percent; and Yvonne Cook, president of Highmark Foundation and an aide to former Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey, at 1 percent.
Prominent investors in Forest City Enterprises are Cleveland businessman Albert Ratner and other members of the Ratner family.
Mr. Barden has an 87 percent stake in PITG Gaming. Besides Smokey Robinson (2 percent) and the Bettises (2 percent), Mr. Barden has a dozen other smaller investors, some from Pittsburgh, Ohio and Philadelphia, with stakes ranging from 1 percent to 0.25 percent.
Lester McMackin, spokesman for Isle of Capri Casinos of Biloxi, Miss., said the firm is 47 percent owned by the family of Bernard Goldstein, who founded the casino company in 1991, and 53 percent owned by outsiders.
Harrah's Entertainment will be prominent in the Station Square venture if it gets the license, but it isn't an investor in Station Square Gaming. That's because it has an ownership role in a new racetrack/casino planned for Chester, south of Philadelphia. It would operate the Station Square casino if Forest City gets the slots license.
Generally, the percentage that each investor holds would be the amount of profits they would receive.
Mr. Barden said that is how it would work with his group. Since he owns own 87 percent of PITG Gaming, he would get that much of the profits.
The state documents didn't specify how much money investors in the three competing groups had to put up in order to secure a certain percentage in the venture. For example, it doesn't say how much Mr. Harris had to put up to get a 4 percent share, or how much the Bettises had to invest to get a 2 percent share.
Mr. Barden declined to give details on how much each of his investors put up, calling that privileged business information. Mr. Ratner couldn't be reached. Isle of Capri would put up its entire amount.
Also in line for a state-issued slots licenses is The Meadows racetrack in Washington County.
The group seeking that license is Millennium Gaming of Las Vegas, which is 50 percent owned by Nevada businessman William Paulos, with the other half owned by his partner, William Wortman.
First Published August 22, 2006 12:00 am