Philly casino sites under fire

Jul 8, 2008 7:00 PM

by Ray Poirier | There’s trouble brewing in Philly-City and resolving the issue might not be that easy.

It all started when the Pennsylvania legislature approved two casino licenses for stand alone facilities in Philadelphia. Applications were received and the licenses were granted to the development arm of the Mashantucket Pequot Indian Nation, operators of Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, and a private group of investors who called their project SugarHouse Casino.

Both chose sites along the Delaware River waterfront.

And that is what has created the brouhaha.

Current political and state leaders have decided that the chosen sites would have a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.

Two Philadelphia lawmakers have threatened to introduce legislation withdrawing property tax breaks for the casinos if they don’t agree to move their sites.

Gov. Ed Rendell, who initially approved the chosen sites, now says "the political landscape has changed" and he plans to meet with the developers to discuss moving the projects.

Foxwoods has plans to build a $986 million facility while the SugarHouse Casino will cost some $550 million.

Residential anti-casino activists, who have the ear of current mayor, Michael Nutter, contend that the facilities will bring crime, reduce property values and increase traffic and pollution in nearby communities.

Controversy has kept the casinos from being built with questionable hope that the site dispute can be resolved.