By Pat Ciarrocchi
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Six operators of casinos are in a race for a second casino site in Philadelphia, as they face an application deadline this week.
Though they tout economic development and jobs, others believe casinos prey on addictions.
Casinos are flashy, whether they’re built and dealing cards, or in the mind’s eye of a developer, like Bart Blatstein and The Provence – a proposal for North Broad Street.
By 5 p.m. on Thursday, November 15th, Philadelphia will learn who is serious about going after a second casino license, and who is just talking.
“The statute requires that potential bidders send us some preliminary local impact information,” said Mayor Michael Nutter. “But the real applications are due on the 15th to the folks in Harrisburg.”
Those “folks” are on the Pennsylvania Casino Control Board.
Right now, six groups are expressing interest at joining The Sugarhouse Casino on the Philadelphia casino landscape. Casino giant Steve Wynn wants to add his name to Fishtown, near The Sugarhouse.
With The Provence planned for the old Inquirer Building on North Broad Street, two others are proposed for Center City, with two more at the stadium complex, in South Philadelphia.
For Dan Hajdo, of Casino-Free Philadelphia, a casino is a casino and they all do the same thing… take advantage of those with gambling or alcohol addictions and those who are poor.
“This is not right,” said Hajdo. “Taking money from people who have an addiction and that’s mainly lower income people. That’s just wrong.”
Despite the proposals and the opposition, The PA Casino Board holds all the cards. It will assess the sites, the financing, the investors and the impact on neighborhoods. And may even decide… not to give anyone the license.
Mayor Nutter says he has no preference at this point. But Casino-Free Philadelphia has a different view.
“Our mission is to stop casinos from coming to Philadelphia and to close any that are open,” said Hajdo. “We know it’s pretty ambitious.”
Nonetheless, Casino-Free says it’s in the race to the end.