ALTHOUGH I understand the
desire to see the casino issue resolved so the financial benefits can begin flowing our way, we are not yet ready to yield on important issues that affect the quality of life in the neighborhoods around the casinos. We must and will continue the fight.
I'm a proponent of slots mainly because I want to keep the money our residents are already wagering rather than lose it to the gambling states on our borders. But where to locate the city casinos is a separate question, and I don't believe the two current venues represent our best interests. Just one example: Traffic congestion will have serious consequences for nearby residents and businesses, but it can also have a detrimental impact on the revenue we gain if access is too difficult and unpleasant even for customers.
Much of the lengthy legal wrangling, which the Daily News rightly decries, results from casino developers trying to circumvent the proper requirements of the law. We will not give up the fight over casinos, in no small part because we want the developers to live by the same rules everyone else has to. City zoning authority was specifically preserved by the Legislature when we wrote the slots law. Riparian lands, which the developers intend to use, are the property of state taxpayers and can be conveyed only by the state.
I have been trying to work with the developers to find more suitable sites for their casinos. I recently reopened discussions with people close to the proposed Foxwoods casino in South Philadelphia about relocating to a different venue.
Yes, we are losing money while this fight plays out. But that is a short-term loss that we must be willing to bear in return for the long-term goal of building our two casinos in the best permanent locations. We are far from giving up on the neighbors and communities along the river, and we would hope that the Daily News would continue to support these Philadelphians as well.