Most Philadelphians support casinos, Pew poll finds, but not a Market Street location

A majority of Philadelphians don’t mind having casinos in Philadelphia, according to a just-released poll commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Research Initiative.  But they don’t want one to open on Market Street East in Center City.

According to the poll of 800 Philadelphia residents, 53 percent  favor slot-machine gambling in Philadelphia, while 41 percent oppose it.

But 57 percent oppose a casino on Market Street East, while 39 percent are in favor.

The poll was conducted from April 6 to 11 by Abt SRBI Public Affairs in association with Rutgers Professor Cliff Zukin. That means polling had already started when Foxwoods Casino – the one hoping to open on Market Street  – announced on April 8 that they were no longer considering The Gallery at 11th and Market, but hoped to open at the former Strawbridge’s site at 8th and Market.

Foxwoods’ needs approvals from both the city and the state Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s approval to move their license from the original South Philadelphia riverfront location to Market Street.

City Council will hold a hearing on zoning legislation related to the move on May 7.

Those polled were more amenable to the proposed location of SugarHouse, the other casino slated to open in Philadelphia. SugarHouse is set to open on Delaware Avenue in Fishtown, and 60 percent of those polled support locating one of the slots on the river there, while 35 percent opposed this location.

Foxwoods’ license is still for a site and Delaware Avenue and Reed Street on the south Philadelphia waterfront. Casino officials agreed to look elsewhere under pressure from the Nutter administration. But they say if they don’t get city and PGCB approval to open at 8th and Market, they will go back to that site. SugarHouse has clung tightly to their riverfront location, however. In recent months, the mayor and his team gave up trying to convince SugarHouse to move, and instead focused on getting changes in the design that would make the project a better fit for the city’s waterfront vision.

While some waterfront advocates disagree, the Nutter team is pleased both with SugarHouse’s redesign. The administration also embraces Foxwoods’ plan to open at 8th and Market, again against the wishes of some neighborhood activists.

The Gaming Control Board will consider SugarHouse’s petition to allow design changes and extend their operating license, which expired in December, at a May 6th hearing at the Convention Center.

To learn more about the poll and see detailed results, click here and follow the links.
    -Posted by Kellie Patrick Gates

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