Gov. Rendell just signed into law a bill passed by the state General Assembly this week to allow casinos in Pennsylvania to add table games such as blackjack, poker and roulette. Rendell told reporters in the capitol the bill left him with both "serious misgivings" and a "sense of relief."
The misgivings involve his preference that all of the state's 14 casinos -- including two in Philadelphia -- get up and running before any expansion of gambling. He also worries about funding for specific projects that some legislators wrote into the table games bill. The relief comes from the $250 million in table-game taxes expected from the new law, which will end the need to lay off 995 state employees and avoid serious cuts into several programs.
Rendell took particular issue with a section of the law that preempts Philadelphia's indoor smoking ban at two casinos planned in the city. "I don't think its an improvement to take away Philadelphia's right to set its own rules on smoking," he said. "That part of the bill bothers me."
But Rendell was fine with a provision written to potentially give Foxwoods, planned for the banks of the Delaware River in South Philadelphia, more time to get the long-delayed project moving. "In many instances, the delays in Philadelphia were not caused by the casinos themselves," Rendell said. That's a clear reference to legal and legislative challenges thrown up by City Council and community groups opposed to the casino locations.