Sunday, February 7, 2016

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

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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.

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About this blog
William Bender, a Drexel graduate who landed at the Daily News in 2007, has covered everything from South Philly mobsters to doomsday hucksters. He occasionally writes about local food trucks and always eats everything on his plate, whether it be a bloody rib eye or a corrupt politician. E-mail tips to benderw@phillynews.com
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David Gambacorta, has been a reporter with the Daily News since 2005, covering crime, police corruption and all of the other bizarre things that happen in Philadelphia. Now he’s covering the 2015 mayor’s race, because he enjoys a good circus just as much as the next guy. He’s always looking to get a cup of coffee. Send news tips and other musings on life to gambacd@phillynews.com
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