Suburban residents raised hardly a peep of protest this morning as the state gaming board held a hearing on a proposal to place 500 slots machines at the Valley Forge Convention Center.

It was quite a contrast to the rabid neighborhood opposition that has greeted efforts to build two slot parlors near the waterfront in Philadelphia.

Upper Merion Township, which hopes to gain about $1.4 million a year in tax revenue from the slots, gave an enthusiastic thumbs up to an application by the Valley Forge center to turn some of its existing trade show exhibit space into a gambling hall.

"We are optimistic that the owners have a very well thought out plan that will make this location a vibrant, successful business ... while minimizing the impact on residents," township Supervisor Edward McBride told the board during the hearing, held at the Dolce Valley Forge Hotel on Route 202.

Frank Freudberg, a writer and only township resident to speak against the proposal, said that slot machines would be "a degradation" to the "quality of life" in the area, 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia at the juncture of the Turnpike and Schuylkill Expressway.

A decision by the state is expected later this year.

Contact staff writer Tom Infield at 610-313-8205 or