Sen. Vincent J. Fumo

District Office

1208 Tasker Street
Phila, PA 19148

Harrisburg Office

545 Main Capitol
Hbg, PA 17120



_____________________NEWS RELEASE

State Senator

1st Senatorial District
Room 545 Main Capitol, Harrisburg PA 17120

State Representatives
175th House District
Room 224 Irvis Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120
184th House District
Room 123-A Capitol East Wing, Harrisburg, PA 17120  


PHONE: 717-787-5662 
MARY ISAACSON (O'Brien & Keller)
PHONE: 215-503-3245


     HARRISBURG, April 30, 2008 – Three state legislators from Philadelphia will introduce a proposal to establish a collaborative, inclusive process aimed at finding new locations for the city’s slots gambling casinos. State Senator Vince Fumo and state Representatives Mike O’Brien and Bill Keller (all Democrats) want to involve state and city officials, Foxwoods and Sugarhouse casinos, community representatives, and the state Gaming Board in an effort to identify alternative casino locations on a strict time line.

     In addition, the legislation would also allow casinos to be situated in the area around the Philadelphia International Airport – by removing the current prohibition on other casinos being sited within a 10-mile radius of the Harness Racing Track slots facility in Chester.

     More than two years after the Gaming Board approved casino licenses, and with most gambling facilities open or well into construction throughout the rest of the state, gaming is no closer to reality in Philadelphia than it was prior to enactment of the 2004 Gaming Law. In fact, the Gaming Board recently revised its estimate for the opening of Sugarhouse to 2010 at the earliest.

     “Much of the delay stems from the legitimate concerns and objections of neighbors and local community groups who oppose casinos being built so close their neighborhoods, schools and churches,” said Keller, whose House district includes the proposed Foxwoods development.

     O’Brien’s House district contains the Sugarhouse location; Fumo’s Senate district holds both.

     “We are trying to end the standoff that has created anxiety in communities, rising costs for casino investors, and delayed gambling revenue benefits for city and state taxpayers,” O’Brien said. “It is fair to neither casino investors nor city residents to allow this to drag on. We are prepared to continue this fight for years if need be to protect our constituents, but I think this represents our best chance to end the fight.”

     Fumo committed himself to working in Harrisburg with Governor Ed Rendell and the rest of the General Assembly to identify financial resources to offset the cost of relocating the casinos.

     “This is not meant to be punitive to the developers. It is an effort to resolve a stalemate. We are committed to casino gambling in Philadelphia, but it must be done in a manner that respects the needs and concerns of the city and community, not in a way that tramples on their rights,” Fumo said.

     Fumo noted that the state Gaming Board did not pick the two waterfront locations, per se, as the best sites in the city for gambling. Rather, developers included the sites as part of their overall proposals, but the Gaming Board took into account many other factors, such as the relative financial stability of the investors, marketing plans, architectural design, minority hiring plans, and more as it sorted through the five Philadelphia applications.

     By re-involving the Gaming Board and the now-successful casino applicants in a new process to determine location, the legislators said they hoped to reach a consensus on the two best places in the city for gambling.

     "This would be an open process that would also give the public and city officials a voice in the decision," Fumo said.

     Under the legislation, the Gaming Board would hold hearings, taking input from the licensees, neighborhood civic associations, and city and state officials. Within 120 days after commencing the relocation proceedings, the Board would issue an alternative licensed facility report, addressing such matters as the public policy concerns at the existing licensed locations, an account of the delays to date and the likelihood of future delays, and a comprehensive list of alternative locations within Philadelphia, along with an account of the advantages and public policy benefits of those locations. Within 30 days of the issuance of that report, the two casino licensees would submit a response to the Board’s report, addressing the feasibility of relocating to one of the alternative sites.

     Thirty days after that, the Board would issue a final order either approving relocation, imposing additional conditions requiring the relocation, or revoking the licenses and reopening the application process for the two Philadelphia casinos.

     Identically worded versions of the legislation will be introduced by O’Brien and Keller in the House and by Fumo in the Senate.

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Click here to view a draft of the legislation