PHILADELPHIA-The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has granted HSP Gaming LLP’s request that the city and related entities process the permit applications, and issue the permits necessary to build its SugarHouse casino on Delaware Avenue. The court’s decision follows HSP’s petition for review and application for summary relief, submitted in late October, as previously reported.

The court directed the city to “take all actions necessary to implement the relief granted, including making all necessary changes to city records, maps and plans, and receiving and reviewing and acting upon all applications from HSP…in compliance with this court’s order.”

Following the decision, SugarHouse principals held a press briefing in the offices of its law firm, Cozen O’Conner, saying it expects to break ground for the $550-million slots and entertainment facility “in the coming weeks,” with an anticipated opening by October 2009.

“We are gratified by this decision and excited about the opportunities ahead,” says Bob Sheldon, president of SugarHouse Casino. “We remain committed to working with our neighbors to reach agreement on a community benefits agreement and look forward to creating thousands of new jobs and generating millions of dollars in new tax revenues for the city and commonwealth.”

Meanwhile, opposition from local civic groups continues. Casino-Free Philadelphia, for example, issued a statement saying it expects the City of Philadelphia “to refuse to accept this affront on democracy” and plans a “site occupation” this Saturday.

Foxwoods, the other casino plan that was approved and granted a license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, has asked the same court for a similar ruling. It also argues, as SugarHouse did, that the city council has unlawfully obstructed the permitting process. It plans a $560-million casino further south along the Delaware riverfront.

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