Philadelphians weigh in on proposals for second casino in city

The public is getting a chance to weigh in on the next Philadelphia casino. Six groups are vying for the casino license and, Thursday, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board listened while the public spoke.

Lifelong Philadelphian Jim Cade has an auto body shop in the Overbrook neighborhood.  He said he has no ties to PHL Local Gaming’s proposal for a casino at Front and Pattison in South Philly, but he told the gaming board it’s the best spot.

“The site of the PHL is the prime location from considering impact on the surrounding community, with its ease of access to out of state patrons, where I-95 and I-76, proximity to the Walt Whitman Bridge and International Airport,” Cade said.

A location far from residential areas will ensure a casino can be built, he added.

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Others came to share their preferences, without speaking in support of a specific project.

State Sen. Larry Farnese said, at this stage of the process, it would be difficult, if not unfair for him to chose a favorite.  But he asked the board to consider many pieces of the casino proposals.

“Will the project transform vacant property or reinvigorate land with a better use than it currently has?  Will it support so-called spinoff development around the casino?  Will it be attractive to tourists and conventioneers, bringing in new money from outside of Pennsylvania?” said Farnese, D-Philadelphia.

Casino opponents and some neighborhood groups have fought past efforts to open casino in Philadelphia.

Farnese encouraged the board not to feel constrained by unsuccessful initiatives to establish a casino in Philadelphia. 

“Looking at the failed starts of the past, there might be a temptation to pick a project that is seemingly lower risk on its face, but, in the long run, fails to create that unique facility possible in this licensing opportunity,” he said.

Doug Harbach, a spokesman for the board, said the hearings are a chance to hear firsthand from public officials and citizens about the potential impact of each casino. 

“It’s an important on-the-record testimony that the board will utilize in its decision-making process, later this year hopefully, in making a determination on where to place this second casino in the city,” he said.

 Harbach encouraged people to sign up to speak or to submit written comments to the board.

The board will continue to hear from the public at a hearing beginning 9 a.m. Friday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Room 204 A/B, 1101 Arch St., Philadelphia. A third public hearing will take place May 8 at Lincoln Financial Field.

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