DiCicco: Foxwoods Ruling 'Damages Philadelphia's Fabric'

Statement from City Councilman Frank DiCicco on Gaming Control Board's ruling:

From the beginning, I have believed that gaming, if done well, will be a great benefit for Philadelphia. However, if enacted poorly, I have no doubt that gaming will irreparably harm the City and damage our neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, the extension of Foxwoods’ license and the condition that the project must be built at its waterfront location is a poor decision that damages Philadelphia’s fabric. Current traffic problems will be exacerbated making it difficult for customers to arrive and driving down gaming revenues. If revenue is lower than expected, Foxwoods will likely fail to expand retail, food or hotel services; those services would render important City taxes and improve job offerings. Likewise, the traffic problems that negatively impact Foxwoods will also impact the surrounding retail establishments and port-related facilities in South Philadelphia. While casino development could enhance surrounding businesses, Foxwoods Casino on the river would hinder its neighbors.

In contrast, a Center City location may have provided an economic engine to help revitalize Market East. More people on the street would have allowed for more commercial opportunities. Better transit systems would have eased traffic concerns. The proximity to the Convention Center would have guaranteed a continuous stream of patrons as well as improved the likelihood of expanded hotel rooms and other businesses. In short, the casino would be a driver for redevelopment and new jobs.

While I recognize that an attempt to relocate the license may have generated law suits and delayed Foxwoods’ initial opening, those short-term challenges would have been in the City’s and the Commonwealth’s long-term best interests.

It is disappointing, although not surprising, that the Board failed to see these benefits and instead sought the fastest and easiest route.