Timeline for new casino in Philadelphia becomes clearer

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 Casino opponents who disrupted the meeting were escorted out by police (NewsWorks Photo)

Casino opponents who disrupted the meeting were escorted out by police (NewsWorks Photo)

It could be more than a year before the first shovelful of dirt is turned to begin construction of Philadelphia’s second casino.

The six would-be casino operators will be invited back at the end of January to make their final pitches for landing Philadelphia’s second casino license, according to Bill Ryan, chairman of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

“All the applicants will come in before the board and put on presentations to prove to the board that they are suitable and each one should be granted the license,” he said.

Ryan says the board probably will pick the winning proposal in March or early April. That, he said, could set off fireworks.

“I would assume that somebody who doesn’t get picked … would have to appeal to the appeal to the Supreme Court and that, of course, would take anywhere from six months.  If somebody is lucky, fewer,” he said. “Maybe longer, we don’t know.”

If there is a court challenge, Ryan said that would delay construction until late 2014, maybe 2015.

Last week, city officials offered their impressions of competing projects.

Deputy Philadelphia Mayor Alan Greenberger and two consultants gave an analysis of the proposals from the six applicants. Even though they would not pick one favorite, the testimony leaned toward two sites: “The Provence” and “Market 8.” Greenberger says both plans would revitalize underutilized areas of the city.

“It is our belief that Market 8 on Market Street East will have the most immediate impact, while the Provence is part of a longer-term revitalization of North Broad Street,” Greenberger said. “Both projects can be transformative projects for the city “

Casino opponents disrupted the meeting for about five minutes. Shouting and bearing signs spelling out problems such as “addiction” and “crime” they associate with gambling, the protesters were ushered out of the room by police.

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