Should the City Do An Economic Impact Study of SugarHouse?

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Over at the Philly Post, Andrew Thompson is asking why the City of Philadelphia — in the midst of waiting for its second casino license — has not followed through on an assertion that it would do an independent economic impact study of SugarHouse. After all, experts tell Thompson it would take about a month to do such an assessment, so it isn’t a question of time.

But municipal musical chairs and forgotten conversations seem to be the problem now, four years after Terry Gillen first mentioned the idea to City Paper’s then-staff writer Isaiah Thompson. She later reversed course, saying the city was not doing an impact study after all — perhaps a miscommunication.

Thompson isn’t optimistic about a study coming to fruition that was vaguely mentioned four years ago and hasn’t been resurrected since. But do we really need a report to know what it’ll say? As urban studies theorist Richard Florida wrote not long ago:

Casinos produce little real wealth for their communities. They generate virtually no economic spinoff activity and in fact tend to poach business away from other local restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.

Countless studies substantiate his assertion.

So no, we’re not going to get an impact study on SugarHouse, whether we were promised one or not. We will, though, get a phenomenal PR blitz from the city once the second licensee is named and construction begins. And who knows? Maybe it’ll be good for the city after all. But we probably won’t know it.

We Are Never Ever Ever Ever Getting an Independent Casino Economic Impact Study