PHILLY’S 2ND CASINO: Only One Bidder Offers True Entertainment Complex

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LoSo-722 copyIt’s called LoSo, after its location in South Philadelphia adjacent to the Casino Revolution development planned at Front Street & Pattison Avenue by PHL Local Gaming, LLC.

LoSo will bring to Philadelphians attractions such as food-and-beverage and retail businesses, soccer fields, racquet sports, an indoor swimming pool, a zip-line park, rock-climbing facilities, a golf driving range, a dry ski/skateboarding park, a water park, and areas devoted to music and live entertainment. Top restaurant brands have already expressed interest in becoming a part of the entertainment complex. They include Bassett’s Original Memphis Pit BBQ, Rice & Company Sushi Bar, Lucky Strike Bowling Lanes, Bobby’s Burger Palace, Texas De Brazil Brazilian Steakhouse, and Fame Night Market & Ultra Lounge.

PHL’s President Joseph Canfora said his company believes the Philadelphia Commerce Dept.’s report, among other things, substantially underrepresented the economic impact at its proposed site, by ignoring PHL Local’s singular potential to expand to 5,000 slots and its unique capacity to “open early” and produce 600 jobs, $41.6 million in state and local taxes and $10.4 million in wages for Philadelphians, at least six months before any other bidder could open for business.

In addition to Casino Revolution’s gaming-specific impact, LoSo could reasonably and conservatively generate $278 million in annual revenues, create 2,459 full-time jobs, 2,317 construction jobs and 15 million annual visitors, all while generating nearly $29 million in state and local tax revenues.

These facts went unnoticed by the Planning Commission when it recommended to the state Gaming Control Board that one of the three proposed Center City locations be chosen for the city’s second casino.

PHL Local Gaming has “serious concerns” about the Planning Commission’s casino rankings, said Canfora. He stated the commission’s report:

1) seemed to be a thinly disguised justification to use casino investors’ funds to promote development in areas separately prioritized by the City, such as the N. Broad Street Corridor, the Market E. Corridor and the Pennsylvania Convention Center;

2) seemed to be dismissive of the need for jobs, contracts and neighborhood development in South Philadelphia, implying the community would be better served by remaining an area dominated by industrial/distribution businesses;

3) asserted inaccurately on Page 41 that the three proposed South Philadelphia casinos “do not present overall programs that highly differentiate themselves from SugarHouse and its customer base;”

4) after disclosing, on Page 46, that every one of the then-six bidders — except PHL Local Gaming — had overstated its gaming-revenue projections, disregarded its own findings and proceeded to rank those properties as if those projections had been credibly done;

5) in a city wherein 63% of the residents are racially or ethnically diverse, seemed to totally ignore the issue of economic diversity or inclusion on the part of the eventual licensee;

6) in a globally recognized “city of neighborhoods”, seemed not to assign very much weight in its rankings, if any, to the quality of the relationship the bidders are experiencing in their neighboring communities – relative levels of neighborhood intrusiveness, curiously, seemed not to be considered at all;

7) despite the Commonwealth’s inclusion of the issue of “responsible gaming” as a licensee-selection criterion, and the vocal and demonstrated support for the concept at the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s hearings, totally overlooked that issue in the commission’s document;

8) specifically related to PHL Local Gaming, which has the unique capacity to expand revenues, jobs, and business opportunities with a 5,000-slot facility, the Commerce Dept.’s report seemed to focus only on a single year, or first-year, economic-impact analysis. Such an approach, said Canfora, ignores the true, long-term economic potential of the bids.

The Commerce Dept. may propose, but the Gaming Control Board disposes. It has the power to spread the benefits of a second casino around more of Philadelphia than Center City alone.

If successful in its bid for the available casino-management license in Philadelphia, PHL Local Gaming, LLC plans to open Casino Revolution, a $428-million, four-star quality, “destination-caliber”, 250-room hotel and gaming facility. The casino will offer, in its first year of operation, 2400 slots, 105 table games, a steakhouse, a coffee/espresso bar, a high-end Italian restaurant, a 300-seat buffet, a 156-seat cafe, and a 1600-car garage.

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3 Responses to PHILLY’S 2ND CASINO: Only One Bidder Offers True Entertainment Complex

  1. The Philadelphia City Planning Commission did not compile or issue such a report. Please check your sources.

    Gary J. Jastrzab
    November 21, 2013 at 11:19 pm

  2. You are right. The article has been corrected online. We will print a written correction next week.

    –Tony West,
    Managing Editor

    editor @pr
    November 22, 2013 at 10:55 am

  3. Will the casino address the persistently high poverty rates that exist in Philadelphia? Gambling is not a solution to economic inequality. Atlantic City, and its current troubles, should be an example of this.

    Michael E. Bell
    December 4, 2013 at 5:10 am

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