By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The possibility of a casino on North Broad Street, near Callowhill, is prompting a move in Philadelphia City Council to stave off new pawn shops, payday loan operations, and other shady credit businesses in that area.

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Developer Bart Blatstein’s Tower Investments is one of five firms hoping to land the second Philadelphia casino license.   Tower’s proposal is for a $700-million gambling emporium in the former headquarters of the Inquirer newspaper, at Broad and Callowhill.

City Council’s Rules Committee has now approved a measure driven by that proposal: a zoning overlay for the area bounded by Spring Garden and Callowhill, Broad and 18th Streets.

The committee chair, councilman-at-large Bill Greenlee, says the overlay specifically prohibits new businesses that would prey on gamblers.

“The communities involved really do not want to see these kinds of establishments — pawn shops, checking cashing agencies,” Greenlee said.  “And also, with a possible casino coming there, that would not seem to be appropriate uses to be that close to a casino.”

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While the measure prohibits new personal credit businesses in that area, existing ones would be allowed to stay, though they would be barred from expanding.

The measure now goes to the full Council for a vote.  A decision by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on the city’s second license is expected later this year.



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