Now Boarding: Slot Machines At The Airport?

Could this be the airport someday?

The latest plan to relocate two casinos in Philadelphia, proposed two weeks ago by a trio of state legislators from the city, prompted an idea from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.  State Sen. Vince Fumo and state representatives Mike O'Brien and Bill Keller suggested moving the two casinos away from the Delaware riverfront and putting them near the Philadelphia International Airport.  DVRPC executive director Barry Seymour wrote to the legislators last week to suggest building the casinos IN the airport.

"Clearly the airport already has good highway and transit access, and literally millions of visitors throughout the year, many of which have time available due to flight delays and layovers," Seymour wrote, adding that one set of slot machines could be placed in the area before travelers pass through security while another set could be placed in the area past the security checkpoints.  Seymour offered the DVRPC staff to do more research.

Seymour, who sent a copy of his letter to Mayor Nutter's administration, told PhillyClout today that he had not contacted anyone at the airport to see what they thought of the suggestion. "We're not advocating it," he added. "It's just an idea." PhillyClout is waiting on airport officials and Fumo to give us their take on that idea.  Mary Issacson, chief of staff to O'Brien, said he and Keller support the concept.

Politically speaking, the idea faces seriously long odds.  Gov. Rendell opposes the legislation to move the casinos to locations near the airport.  It would require a change in state law that bans any casino from being within 10 miles of the Harrah's casino in Chester, Delaware County. And the casino developers here oppose any move, saying they have already spent millions of dollars on plans for their state-approved locations in South Philly and Fishtown.

UPDATE:  A spokesman for Fumo says the senator has seen the letter and doesn't support or oppose the idea of slot machines at the airport but thinks its "worth considering."

2nd UPDATE: Charles Isdell, the acting director of aviation, just had a staffer email PhillyClout to say it would be inappropriate to comment on the DVRPC suggestion because the city hasn't had time to thoroughly review it.  But Isdell notes that federal regulations require that revenue -- aka taxes from slot machines -- earned at the airport must be reinvested in the airport.  That also needs more review, he said

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