Monday, November 03, 2008

Smaller Casino is a Better Casino

To the surprise of no one, City Council's rules committee gave its blessing Saturday to a bill that would rezone the Gallery shopping mall for gambling and a Foxwoods slots parlor. The next step is for the entire council to take up the measure, which would create an overlay for an entertainment district on Market Street, between 8th and 12th Streets. Although it appears that the city is eager to smooth the way for Foxwoods, to get its planned casino off the Delaware Waterfront, City Commerce Director Andrew Altman says that the gambling operator still must clear several planning hurdles before it can move into the western block of the mid-'70s shopping mall, a joint design by what was then Bower and Fradley (nowB LT) and Cope Linder Associates.

In Friday's column, I suggested that one of the city's key demands should be the right-sizing of Foxwoods to fit more comfortably onto Market Street. Events have been happening so fast since Gov. Rendell announced that he would consent to the downtown location that there hasn't been any serious reconsideration of what sort of casino Foxwoods should operate at 11th and Market. As I argued on Friday, and in a similar vein back in September, it's dumb for the state to think you can "simply move a replica of Foxwoods' waterfront slots parlor to a downtown location." Foxwoods, like all the slots barns in Pennsylvania, was conceived as a stand-alone, highway box with 5,000 slot machines and a massive parking garage. (See my column on Harrahs Chester.) Altman and the rest of the Nutter Administration already acknowledge that a casino garage probably won't be necessary downtown, since the Gallery sits the region's best mass transit nexus. Now it's time for them to tell the governor that 5,000 slots isn't necessary or desirable either.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about zero slot machines? That'd be a good number.

4:11 PM  
Blogger rasphila said...

Anonymous has a point, but unfortunately it seems we are to have slots whether we like them or not. The design of the slots building, however, is important and subject to change with public pressure. With a convention center that looks like an airplane hanger, it's particularly important that any slots casino fit with its urban setting, or at least not make the Gallery worse than it already is.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forget about design considerations and focus on the more essential elements of this proposed casino. It is a predatory, anti-social business with fifty seven percent of casinos' net (bottom-line) profit coming from gambling addicts. The trail of divorces, embezzlements, suicides, loss of employment, bankruptcies, home foreclosures will be horrendous and the casinos will be required to pony up a relative pittance to pay for what these social ills cost the City itself.

It should be viewed as no coincidence that Foxwoods' Plan B location is right next to an ethnic group that suffers rates of gambling addiction five times the national average. That's a brilliant business move.

Rendell and City Council are in process of slitting Chinatown's throat. Stick it to them. Isn't crony capitalism great?

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both London and Paris have casinos right in their heart without muc negative impact, if any. Casinos didn't ruin Detroit either, high taxes, municipal corruption, and loss of manufacturing did (sound familiar?). Get over it. Not only that, let's add table

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. Not only that, but Sydney and Melbourne, in Australia, also have casinos in the ehart of their downtowns. I have not seen a negative impact. If anything, it's positive since it brings in tourists, revives an area and brings in tax revenue. Moreover, let's face it - Market East is a total dog. It can only be an improvement. Chinatown also needs to get over the assumption that ANYTHING in that area (stadiums, casinos, etc.) is bad. The leaders of Chinatown keep on using the argument that Asians are predisposed to gambling and thus putting a casino nearby will make people there act like kids in a candystore. As an Asian-American, I find that argument to be very unflattering and offensive. It presumes that people aren't capable of using better judgment. Besides, what significant difference does it make to the purportedly addicted gamblers of Chinatown if the casino is in Market East or if it is just a few miels away on the Delaware????

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was under the impression that the Paris casinos do not have slot machines. If I am wrong, I hope Anonymous 8:50am will provide evidence (go for it). Slots are the most addictive form of gambling in the casino. If the proposal was to have table games only, I think the citizen reaction would be different.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

waaah! Waaah! I can't control my impulses to gamble away all my money.
Waah! I drink too much so lets get rid of all the bars!
Waaah! I can't stand that there are NO OTHER industries interesting in coming to Philadelphia...Ask the workers at GlaxoSmithKline about that.
Waaah! I never heard of Alcoholics anonymous or Gamblers I want to ruin it for every other adult who leads wants to have fun

I agree it's a disease. But should we all be penalized because of people that have that disease?
It's a predatory business? Like bars and Taverns? Adult Video stores? The Inteernet? The places that sell cigarettes?

you show me a way to make BILLIONS that will be generated by the 57% (not the 7% that Atlantic City gets)tax, and I will GLADLY stand next to you in the protests of the Casinos.

1:02 PM  
Blogger rasphila said...

Anonymous 8:27 is right. Casinos, particularly slots casinos, are predatory and anti-social, and we shouldn't be relying on them to fund our government. In my comment I didn't mean to imply that this wasn't so, only to point out that stopping the slots casinos is, at least for now, a lost cause.

That said, I think the design considerations remain important. Philadelphia will not remain a good urban place for long if we fill it with ugly and out-of-scale convention centers and slots barns.

2:47 PM  

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