I'm indifferent when it comes to casino gaming in Philadelphia. Personally, I kind of see them in the same light as strip clubs, or even your neighborhood tavern. They are simply a den of vice, and therefore will always be an easy target for an angry mob of naysayers. Often surrounded by a lot of "Please think of the children!" type of hype (by some of the least informed activists), casinos rarely cause the problems these fear mongers would like you to believe. The blue-haired casino junkies that pack slot barns across the country bring money to undervalued locations. Thugs don't go to slot barns, they go to Vegas, and not one major city that has gone casino has managed to bring the skank factor with their casinos. Not Detroit, not New Orleans, not London, casino gambling doesn't destroy established cities, it destroys Indian Reservations and small towns with nothing better to offer, which is exactly what Las Vegas, Reno, and Atlantic City were when gaming came to town. So unless you're setting up a casino in Terre Haute, IN, chances are nothing is going to change. Sorry Chinatown. Sorry Northern Liberties. You're just plain wrong.
What I do take issue with is bad business, a lack of basic common sense, and the "progressives" who halt progress. Foxwoods has been yanked again, this time back to the original location. No wonder they weren't too pressed to issue a rendering for the potential Strawbridges or Gallery locations, the state and the NIMBYs have been jerking them around for the past several years while everyone, not just the casinos, pisses away money. Renderings and planning cost money and the transparent plan on the part of the NIMBYs (as it always is) is to nag the target until they get frustrated and leave or simply run out of money. Unfortunately in this case, they got it seriously wrong. Market East needs something, anything, and Foxwoods wanted to be it, was willing to be it, and was an ideal client for the decaying corridor between the Convention Center and the historic district. What better way to tie two family oriented destinations together than by sticking a place to drop off granny right in the middle? In a mall of all things! What do tourists like better than cheesesteaks and the Betsy Ross House? They like seeing what the other Gaps are like. It was a dream location and a dream opportunity. And in a delicious slice of irony, this is a lose-lose for the NIMBYs. We're still getting a casino people. But now we're getting a big ugly sprawling stip mall completely inaccessible by public transportation, which means no Market East transit improvements and another huge surface parking lot lining the South Philly waterfront. YOU IDIOTS!
I think my favorite part of the recent events surrounding the re-re-prelocation of Foxwoods to South Philadelphia is the classic institutionalized frustration machine displayed by Chairman Gregory Fajt of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board who foamed at the mouth as if Foxwoods was dicking the city and the state around by vying for the Market East location, a location endorsed by a number of local and state officials and all but promised to Foxwoods. Really Fajt? Who's dicking who? Now I know, defending Foxwoods is like defending Wal-Mart, but come on, not even Wal-Mart wants to set up shop in the Gallery. Business is business. City and state politicians get a big fat F when it comes to wheeling and dealing in general, but this deal goes even lower. This is an insult to the most simplistic business concepts and basic common sense.