You Can’t Be For Casinos and Against Pawn Shops

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

I find it fascinating that members of City Council right now want to put yet another zoning overlay in the city to prohibit new pawn and check cashing joints in Center City. The rationale is basically that pawn shops and check cashing joints shouldn’t be near casinos because … well, because.

Here in Philly, we’ve established that we are OK with the casino business model for two reasons: Individual freedom of people to gamble and for the fringe economic benefits of tourism. Still, our decisions have consequences.

One of these consequences is people pawning their shit to play chemin-de-fer.

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The New Jersey Casino Experiment Has Failed

AtlanticCityHow low can Atlantic City casinos go? The numbers for 2013 aren’t looking very good — for N.J.’s gambling resort, or for casinos across the country.

Last year, Atlantic City’s casinos brought in $235 million in gambling earnings. That’s bad — 35 percent less than 2012 —and even worse given the following:

  • The 2013 number includes the introduction of the much ballyhooed Internet gambling that was supposed to be the latest and greatest thing to save Atlantic City. Apparently not.
  • The 2013 earnings are still down 35 percent even when being compared to those of 2012, a year that included Superstorm Sandy. The storm shut down casinos entirely and slowed business for months after.

It’s not getting any better this year, either.

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Morning Headlines: Casino License Bidders Will Get Last 15 Minutes Before the Board

Tower Entertainment's proposed casino, the Provence at

Tower Entertainment’s proposed casino, the Provence at Broad and Callowhill
Photo credit: theProvenceCasino.com

Tomorrow morning, four of the five contenders for Philadelphia’s second casino license will appear one more time before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Each will have 15 minutes to sum up why they should get it, while opponents will have equal time to say why they shouldn’t. Read more »

Morning Headlines: Market8 Gets Three Political Endorsements

Rendering of Market8.

Rendering of Market8.

Market8 has been endorsed yet again, this time by state and local legislators: Rep. John Taylor, Rep. Michael O’Brien, and Councilman Mark Squilla. They join a line of supporters that includes the Washington West Civic Association and the Philadelphia NAACP.

The casino bidder’s presentation at last month’s hearings before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board made a stronger impression than those of the other contenders.

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Morning Headlines: Casino Smackdown Begins. Who Will Win?

casino revolution

Casino Revolution renderings: exterior and (inset) bar area. Renderings by Hnedek Bobo Group.

Today is the start of three days of hearings during which the final five bidders for Philadelphia’s casino license will make their case before the PA Gaming Control Board. Established venues such as SugarHouse will also be granted the opportunity to present their rebuttal against the new projects to avoid losing business.

Among the prospective projects, three are proposed for South Philly (Live! Hotel & Casino, Casino Revolutions, and Hollywood Casino), one in Callowhill (the Provence), and one in Center City (Market8). The schedule of the hearings is as follows:

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Is Philadelphia’s Next Casino Just a Spoonful of Slots to Make the Restaurants Go Down?

A rendering of Bart Blatstein's Provence casino.

A rendering of Bart Blatstein’s Provence casino.

One of the things that struck us about Bart Blatstein’s Provence casino proposal from the day it was announced was the function the casino would perform. Of course, it’s the largest single element of the project, but both from its placement (above the street-level restaurants and shops) and the facilities attached to it (a concert venue and rooftop shopping village), it almost seemed the casino was an appendage needed to make all the other goodies possible.

Since that grand announcement party almost a year ago, the other projects vying for the city’s second casino license have largely evolved in the Provence’s direction. Market8, the closest in concept at the start, enlarged its hotel and added more street-level variety. Casino Revolution tacked on a theme park of sorts. And so on.

Blatstein’s introduction of two star chefs for the Provence more or less confirmed our view of the project. It’s not that casinos lose money; if they did that, there wouldn’t be five bidders competing for one casino license. Rather, it’s that the casino is no longer the biggest moneymaker in such projects.

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Provence Casino Would Bring Nationally Acclaimed Chefs

Tom Colicchio and Andrew Camellini with Bart Blatstein | Amanda Laura

Tom Colicchio and Andrew Camellini with Bart Blatstein | Amanda Laura

If Bart Blatstein lands Philadelphia’s remaining casino license he will bring two nationally known chefs to town. Bart Blatstein told the assembled media at the North Broad Street site of what he hopes will be his Provence Casino that  Tom Colicchio and Andrew Carmellini will open restaurants in the complex.

Tom Colicchio, who is known for hosting Top Chef and his Craft restaurants hints that he will be doing a steakhouse that will utilize local farmers for produce and beef as well. He added, “I have a few steakhouses already but I want to do something different, something unique for Philadelphia.”

As for Andrew Camellini, who has six restaurants in New York and Miami, the James Beard winning chef is leaning towards an Italian restaurant. Despite the French name of Provence, the chef is thinking Italian Riviera. “It’s not far from where my family is from, so I think that’s where I’m headed to draw inspiration from.”

Each chef has time to nail down their concept as the gaming board isn’t expected to announce a winner of the second Philadelphia casino license till later in 2014.

For more on Blatstein and the Provence Casino, check out Property.

 

Morning Headlines: Atlantic Club Shut Its Doors, Now Eleven Casinos Remain

Shot of Atlantic City casinos from 2009 by Brian G. Wilson

Shot of Atlantic City casinos from 2009 by Brian G. Wilson

Well, it’s official. Atlantic City now has eleven casinos remaining. We knew it was coming since last December, but the closing of the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel earlier this morning (just a minute past midnight) has undoubtedly left a sad mark on former employees and visitors.

Wayne Parry of the Associated Press describes one of the Atlantic Club’s final scenes:

The few die-hards that stayed on the casino floor until the end counted down its final five seconds as dealers who were suddenly unemployed burst into tears and hugged each other. Within moments, casino staff began stacking and counting chips and preparing to remove cash boxes from the casino floor.

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