Wednesday, November 26, 2014
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Bob Brady's dream of a casino to fund city finances is dead

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady's dream of a Philadelphia casino to help fund the city's public schools and municipal pensions is dead. Penn National Gaming today announced that it is pulling the plug on an application to build a $480 million casino at Seventh Street and Packer Avenue in South Philly.

Bob Brady's dream of a casino to fund city finances is dead

The Hollywood Casino Philadelphia as proposed by Penn National, in which some revenue would have gone to the city. (Source: Penn National Gaming Inc.)
The Hollywood Casino Philadelphia as proposed by Penn National, in which some revenue would have gone to the city. (Source: Penn National Gaming Inc.)

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady's dream of a Philadelphia casino to help fund the city's public schools and municipal pensions is dead.

Penn National Gaming today announced that it is pulling the plug on an application to build a $480 million casino at Seventh Street and Packer Avenue in South Philly.

"A contributing factor in our decision to withdraw our proposal was the City of Philadelphia's vocal support for a Center City casino location, despite the fact that two-thirds of the profits from our proposed casino were dedicated to the city's education and pension fund liabilities,” Timothy J. Wilmott, President and CEO of Penn National Gaming, said in a company news release.

Brady had struggled to win Mayor Nutter's support for the project, which he considered a "slam dunk" for two areas in constant need of city funding.

"Why isn’t that a slam dunk that we shouldn’t be pushing as hard as we can for that?," Brady asked today. "Tell me what the bad side of this was? I don’t understand it. I just don’t understand it."

Another factor: “The market potential in Philadelphia is less today then when we first applied, as a result of the ongoing gaming saturation in the mid-Atlantic region, as well as continued softness in the economy," the release quoted Wilmott as saying.

Brady, chairman of the city's Democratic Party, has been pushing the concept since November 2012. Two-thirds of the casino would have been owned by a non-profit dedicated to funding schools and pensions while the other third would have been owned by Penn National.

The company, which already owns a majority share of a Pennsylvania casino, is prohibited by state law from owning more than a third of another casino license in the state.

Penn National's withdrawal leaves four applicants for the city's second casino license, two in South Philly and two in Center City.  Casino developer Steve Wynn also withdrew a casino license application, for a project in Fishtown, in November.

The state Gaming Control Board has not scheduled a vote on the license. 

Doug Harbach, a spokesman for the board, said a filing was received from Penn National today and will be reviewed by the board's Office of Enforcement Counsel.

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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