By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Just hours before today’s deadline to file an application for Philadelphia’s second casino license, Philadelphia-based US congressman Bob Brady (D-Pa.) was pushing the idea of a city-owned casino.
But it was far from clear that the city would get a deadline extension it needed to make its last-ditch plan possible.
Brady’s spokesman, Ken Smuckler, says the concept is simple:
“If the city is going to have a casino, then we should maximize the benefit to the city from that casino.”
Smuckler says the Brady idea is to float a bond and, if approved by voters in next year’s May primary, bring in an experienced operator to manage the casino.
“The city plays the same role as a venture fund that holds equity in a casino, or a bank that does debt financing for a casino,” Smuckler told KYW Newsradio this morning.
A letter from Pennsylvania state senator Anthony Williams to the state Gaming Control Board outlined the rationale: revenue would help plug school district deficit and shore up the city’s faltering pension fund.
Read Sen. Williams’ full letter (.pdf format)
The cover sheet of Williams’ letter shows the proposed facility located at Third Street and Packer Avenue, the former site of the Food Distribution Center deep in South Philadelphia.
But the deadline for applications for Philadelphia’s second casino license was 5pm today, and Williams’ letter indicated that the City of Philadelphia would not make its casino license application until after getting voter approval next May.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board issued a terse statement this afternoon indicating that its application deadline was firm and would not be extended for any applicant.
Meanwhile, the Nutter administration seems to be opposed to the idea of a city-owned casino. The mayor’s press office issued a statement late this afternoon pointing out that state law requires cities to get state legislative approval before engaging in any proprietary business, adding that “the city has not received any formal written request for any kind of city-owned casino.”