Youngblood: Philly casino interest high, competitive process good for city
HARRISBURG--After much speculation and hard-fought battles to preserve Philadelphia's second casino license, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board officially announced today that they have received six applications for the vacant Category 2 license.
State Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood, D-Phila., said Philadelphia's second casino license garnered the highest number of applicants for one individual license since gaming began in Pennsylvania back in 2004.
Youngblood, who is the Democratic chairwoman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, was the leading proponent of keeping the remaining Category 2 license in Philadelphia and fought to oppose any legislative action that would have stripped the city of its second license. She said the number of applicants willing to invest in Philadelphia puts to rest any doubt that the city will be able to sustain a second casino.
"We have six applicants who are all willing to take a risk and invest hundreds of millions of dollars in our city," Youngblood said. "With this level of competition for one license, it is evident that the city will prosper with two casinos. No developer, let along six developers, would risk so much money on a venture if they thought the business would not be successful."
With the board's announcement today, Youngblood said the taxpayers of Philadelphia are one step closer to seeing job opportunities, economic development and additional local tax revenue for the city that comes with hosting a second casino. But she warned that any additional delay in the outcome of the licensure process could cause the General Assembly to reconsider its position on keeping the license in Philadelphia.
"Philadelphians have been counting on the revenue from this second Category 2 license since the original Gaming Act was established, and the people of this city have been eager to apply for the full-time, high-wage jobs, most of which come with medical and pension benefits, that were promised from two licensed facilities," she said. "But we know all too well that there have been several attempts by members of the legislature to bid the license out to other municipalities, citing the inability of Philadelphia to close the deal on a second casino. We cannot afford to create an environment that would provide additional fodder for those who wish to transfer the license to another municipality."
Regardless, Youngblood said she has confidence that the board will exhaust every resource to ensure integrity and accountability in the process.
"Pennsylvania has become a global model for regulating and enforcing the gaming industry," she said. "I am confident that the board will be thorough, transparent and allow all concerned residents to partake in the process to ensure public input and access."
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