Pulse: Chatter: Casinos and Chips

Drive north on I-95 from Philly to get your gaming on, and you’ll take the Street Road exit to head west toward Philadelphia Park, the Bensalem racetrack that last December added a 24-hour slots parlor. And as you thread your way


Drive north on I-95 from Philly to get your gaming on, and you’ll take the Street Road exit to head west toward Philadelphia Park, the Bensalem racetrack that last December added a 24-hour slots parlor. And as you thread your way the three miles to your date with clanging coins, you begin to understand what’s really at stake as Northern Liberties and South Philly locals battle to keep casinos out of their neighborhoods: their skyline — and their waistlines.

The stretch of asphalt from 95 to Philadelphia Park may be the most gastronomically lethal in the entire region, an artery-clogging artery boasting at least seven fast-food franchises, a pizza joint, a Nifty Fifty’s, two round-the-clock diners, a Wawa and a 7-Eleven (the latter two also open 24/7). All of which now aim to serve ravenous slot players leaving at all hours. “I think in the future the traffic will be very high,” says Zack Elba, manager of the Club House Diner, who says he’s already witnessed a measurable bump in patrons since the slots arrived. “As more people stop into the casino, more will stop in to eat.” Seems they already are: Responding to increased demand from players, the nearby McDonald’s recently opened its drive-through 24 hours.

So if, as expected, the state eventually prevails in allowing casinos to open here, lots of folks may be following their gambling with a stop to grab a Value Meal. Or an angioplasty.