HARRISBURG - A planned vote in Philadelphia on where slot-machine casinos can build has no business being challenged in the state's highest court, lawyers for Philadelphia City Council said yesterday.

In a new filing that outlines its defense against a challenge by state gambling regulators, Council argued that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction in the matter and the courts have no place in calling off a referendum.

The lawyers also said the Supreme Court should lift its two-week-old temporary injunction against the May 15 referendum, because there is no harm in at least allowing the vote to go forward.

"The role of our courts is to evaluate the statutes produced by the electoral and legislative process," the brief said. "It is not the place of our courts to intervene before that process is complete."

Philadelphia's status as the nation's largest city with casinos could hinge on the court's rushed decision.

It is not clear when the court plans to settle the matter.

The original suit was filed April 5 by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, which contended that the referendum would result in a change to the Philadelphia city charter that treads on its authority.

The board asked the Supreme Court to declare that it has sole authority over casino placement and that City Council had no power to authorize the vote. *