PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia’s first casino seems sure to win renewal of its gambling license for a second year of operation.  The first of two hearings on the Sugarhouse license renewal, held today at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, was a virtual love fest for the casino.

Casino neighbor Maggi O’Brien, for example, had nothing but sweet things to say about Sugarhouse:

“It sparkles with excitement. It has brought much-needed jobs, it has brought community pride…”

In fact, all but one of the more than 20 people who testified urged the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to renew the casino’s license.

But the lone opponent, anti-casino lawyer Paul Boni, says that’s only because most casino opponents consider these hearings more public relations events for the casino than regulatory hearing.

“The recent grand jury has criticized this Gaming Control Board for being more of a cheerleader for the industry than a true regulator, and I think we’re seeing that live and in color,” he said today.

The grand jury report released last month described the board has a haven of “non-criminal misconduct,” but the board’s chief enforcement counsel dismisses the criticism.

“Everyone has their own opinion,” says Cyrus Petri.

The board will hold one more hearing, but renewal for Sugarhouse looks like a sure thing.

Reported by Pat Loeb, KYW Newsradio 1060

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