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Casino hopefuls think more games needed

Already home to city’s four professional sports franchises, developers also think it’s ripe for gambling.

Imagine 70,000 fans at Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park on a game day, plus hundreds of people at entertainment complex Xfinity Live!

How about you then toss in a casino with 2,000 slots and more than 100 table games?

Some South Philadelphia residents claim a casino would create traffic and parking nightmares at peak times, but not so, according to three of the six applicants for the city's second casino license.

Three separate groups who have proposed a casino and resort on Packer Avenue near the South Philadelphia Sports Complex said the traffic impact would be mitigated by their proximity of Interstates 76 and 95 and that on-site parking and other parking facilities would offset the increase in cars, according to local impact studies from the groups, released last week by the state Gaming Control Board.

Some residents argue that the area cannot support a second casino.

"You got one in Chester, you got one on Shackamaxon [in Fishtown]. What are we doing here?" questioned South Philadelphia resident Sam Paranzino. "How many casinos do we need to fringe on our seniors? Enough is enough."

Former city councilman Jimmy Tayoun, who is editor of the Philadelphia Public Record, insists a casino would mean jobs for residents and more money for community organizations in the area.

"All the arguments have been wiped out, so South Philadelphians being pragmatic realize this means more jobs,," he said.

Getting in on the action

The state Gaming Control Board released local impact plans for each of the six casino applicants last week. The board is expected to host a series of public meetings to receive testimony on the applications. It could take up to a year before a final decision is made.

To view the impact reports, visit www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov and click on Philadelphia Casino Applicants Information.

Here's a look at the three casino applicants who want to build in South Philadelphia.

A group called PHL Local Gaming proposed a site on Front Street near Packer Avenue in South Philadelphia. The group is headed up by produce businessman Joseph Procacci, according to CBS Philly. It did not submit a local impact report to the city on time, but the gaming board has not said what impact that would have on applications.

Penn National Gaming, which owns Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course outside of Harrisburg, said it may add the city as a partner at the site of the former Food Distribution Center on Packer Avenue or at a location it controls further west on Packer. The group has been in discussions with U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, who championed the idea of a city-owned casino, state Sen. Anthony "Hardy Williams and City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson. By law, Penn National can only have one-third ownership in a second Pennsylvania casino.

Stadium Casino
, a partnership between the owner of Parx Casino and The Cordish Co., has plans for a Live! Hotel and Casino at the site of the Holiday Inn on Packer Avenue in South Philly.

The non-South Philly casino proposals are: Developer Bart Blatstein's $700 million resort and casino complex proposal on North Broad Street at the site of the former Inquirer/Daily News building; Steve Wynn's proposed project along the Delaware River on North Beach Street in Fishtown; and a group called Market East Associates wants to build a casino at Eighth and Market streets on Market East.

The gaming board is expected to review the applications and hold a series of public hearings before making its final decision.

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