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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pennsylvania Licenses At Finish Line

- 2,100 slot machines opened at Philadelphia Park today. Or should I say, at Philadelphia Park Casino. Let's call a spade a spade, and a racetrack a casino. I love this exchange from this article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, involving a disgruntled horseplayer:

This is supposed to be a racetrack," he said to a guard. "You're turning it into a casino."

"It's the best of both worlds," the guard answered.

The man kept walking. "It's supposed to be a racetrack."
Well, there is racing, and the purses are expected to increase from an average of $100,000 a day to $500,000. Indeed, an anticipatory hike of 40% has already been implemented. reports that the track is likely to be one of the biggest entertainment attractions in the Philadelphia area.

Perhaps. But for how long? Even after the time that two grand stand-alone slots parlors/hotels/entertainment centers open in downtown Philly, making it the largest U.S. city with legalized gambling halls? Five bidders, including Donald Trump and Foxwoods, have made their lavish proposals, and the state's gaming board is scheduled to announce their decision on Wednesday.

And really, once they are open, who the hell from or in Philly is going to travel all the way up to Bensalem when they can go to one of these right in town? Check out the one on the left (Trump Street); it looks like the proposed Freedom Tower at the World Trade site for heaven's sake! (And it will almost certainly be completed before that one is.)

Man, there's a lot at stake here. For all of the companies involved, it's money, money, money. For those in the Gettysburg area, it's what some perceive as the historic sanctity of the site. For hockey fans in Pittsburgh and around the league, it's the future of the Penguins and their absolutely sensational young star Sidney Crosby; only one of the three bidders for the single casino that will be built there has pledged to kick in some $290 million to finance a new arena that would keep the team from moving elsewhere.

And for all of the communities involved, there are, according to supports, jobs and prosperity at stake; the flip side, according to opponents, is the addiction and related problems inherent in easily accessible around the clock gambling. The answers will come on Wednesday. After deliberating behind closed doors, the board will conduct a roll-call vote in front of what is expected to be a overflow auditorium in the state capitol.


Wendy said...

It amazes me that nothing has been mentioned about upgrading the horse racing side of the track. The backside of that track is a hell hole for both the workers and the horses. When a trainer is excited about being in a barn that's "held together nicely" then you have to believe there is a serious problem that needs addressing!

Nellie said...

I'm very curious to see what will happen up in Erie, at Presque Isle Downs. In the media there, they don't really even bother to make mention of the fact that it's also a racetrack. On the other hand, they do have a centrally located OTB facility. Here in Pittsburgh, I have yet to find one that can be reached without a car...