City could use another casino

One more? A game of blackjack at Philadelphia's only casino (so far), SugarHouse. MICHAEL S. WIRTZ/ Staff Photographer
One more? A game of blackjack at Philadelphia's only casino (so far), SugarHouse. MICHAEL S. WIRTZ/ Staff Photographer
Posted: April 10, 2012

With Philadelphia still facing an unacceptably high unemployment rate and continuing to search for revenue to fund core services, we should be welcoming new, revenue-generating employers to the city. Yet the recent revocation of Foxwoods' license to operate a casino here had some cheering the loss of a business that would be sure to create jobs and boost the economy.

Recently released data show that a second Philadelphia casino would indeed be a boon to the economy. According to the state House Gaming Oversight Committee, another casino would add $144 million to $177 million in economic activity.

In addition, as many as 600 construction jobs and more than 1,000 long-term, family-sustaining jobs would be created. Preliminary projections also suggest the city could see an influx of nearly 4,500 ancillary jobs.

Besides the employment boost, Philadelphia would benefit significantly from the tax revenue that would be generated by a second gambling license. Another casino could be directly responsible for a boost of as much as $20 million a year to the city's general fund.

It would also provide relief from city wage taxes as well as property taxes, not only for the Philadelphia region but for taxpayers across the commonwealth. To date, Philadelphia residents have seen more than $223 million in wage-tax relief as a result of gambling revenues.

True, the plan to build a casino on the Delaware River waterfront in South Philadelphia has not panned out. But that doesn't mean other potential casino operators don't want to bet on Philadelphia. The city is an extremely attractive venue for casino operators, with a variety of entertainment options and easy accessibility across three states.

Antigambling interests have warned that casinos will mean more crime, traffic congestion, and other negative consequences. However, most people acknowledge that this parade of horrors has not materialized in the wake of the opening of the city's first and so far only casino, SugarHouse.

Philadelphia is on the upswing. We should reinforce the city's momentum by encouraging proven job creators and economy boosters to consider locating here. For the largest payout, the wisest bet for the state's next casino is right here.

Darrell L. Clarke is City Council president and represents the Fifth Councilmanic District. He can be reached at darrell.clarke@phila.gov.

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