- Bally's obtains an option to purchase 21 riverfront acres on Christopher Columbus Boulevard at Reed Street. Ed Rendell is mayor of Philadelphia and speculation spreads that riverboat gambling will be approved by the state.
2005 - Bally's, which has become Caesar's Entertainment, pays $45 million on top of a previous $20 million in option payments for the land. Rendell, now governor, has successfully pushed for the legalization of slot-machine gambling. Caesar's is then absorbed by Harrah's Entertainment, which has a casino project in the works for Chester, Delaware County.
Harrah's sells the land to a local investor group. That group then partners with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which runs the Foxwoods casino in Connecticut, to apply for a casino license.
2006 - City Council, neighborhood groups and anti-casino activists gear up to fight proposed casino projects. The state Gaming Control Board awards casino licenses to Foxwoods and SugarHouse, another riverfront project.
2007 - Foxwoods loses a battle with the Board of Revision of Taxes, which increased the South Philly site's property taxes in anticipation of the casino being built. The investors later settle with the city on the new tax bill.
Foxwoods and SugarHouse prevail in a state Supreme Court ruling on a lawsuit filed by Council and neighborhood groups to invalidate the casino licenses. The City Planning Commission supports the zoning needed for Foxwoods to start construction. City Council does not act on the zoning legislation.
2008 - The Supreme Court finds that the city has wrongly blocked Foxwoods, orders the zoning approved and appoints a "special master" to handle conflicts. Mayor Nutter rips the decision, calling the Foxwoods riverfront location "wrong for Philadelphia." Gov. Rendell joins Nutter in pushing for the casinos to move to new locations. SugarHouse refuses. Foxwoods agrees and sets sights on the Gallery, at 11th and Market streets, in Center City. The city moves quickly to approve zoning for that location. Nearby Chinatown erupts with anti-casino protests.
2009 - Foxwoods shifts plans to the former Strawbridge & Clothier department store, at 8th and Market streets. The city again moves quickly to approve zoning for that location.