Will South Philly Beat Out Center City for a Casino?
Tomorrow the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board holds a special meeting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center at which it publicly votes on who gets Philadelphia’s second casino license. There are four bidders — two in Center City (The Provence at 400 North Broad Street and Market8 at 8th and Market) and two in South Philly (Casino Revolution at 3333 South Front Street and Live! Hotel and Casino at 900 Packer Ave.) — waiting for word.
Because the whole thing has taken so damn long, we asked Doug Harbach, PGCB spokesperson, what would happen if the vote is deadlocked tomorrow. You know, just in case. Ain’t gonna happen.
“The Board can’t approve things with a simple majority,” he said. “It has to be the four appointees by the legislature along with one of the appointees by the governor. Only after that can they have a public vote.” So tomorrow’s meeting is more about transparency than actual decision-making, which has already taken place behind the scenes. I asked Harbach if there might be any surprises. “There haven’t been any so far,” he said. Translation: It’s all over but the photo op.
Until last week, every single one of my sources had been telling me that if the state awarded the license, it was going to do so to a Center City location. Bart Blatstein’s Provence, in the former Inquirer building, was a strong contender, but Ken Goldenberg’s Market8 was maybe stronger, given all the Market East momentum driven by Brickstone and John Dougherty — and with the proposed MIC Tower at Lit Bros. and the new Century 21 at the Gallery. I didn’t talk to one human being who thought South Philly would get the license.
Then last week, after the Board announced the date of the public vote, hundreds of people came out for a protest against what they were calling the “expected” decision in favor of Live! Hotel and Casino by the stadiums. What?
I called a developer involved in one of the casinos — who wouldn’t talk on the record — and asked if there was documentation out saying who won the bid. Maybe it had been leaked? “I don’t know where they’re getting this stuff,” the developer told me. I also spoke with a highly influential South Philadelphia activist who believed the the intel was solid, given that the source for it had been right about everything else until now. The activist declined to go on the record. Goldenberg and Blatstein both declined comment, while Casino Revolution sent out the below:
The meeting will begin at 1:00 p.m. in Room 201 and is open to the public. It’ll also be live streamed here.