FUMO’S AMENDMENT RESTORES SOME POWER OVER CASINOS TO
HARRISBURG, September 27,
2006 – Legislation approved today by the state Senate requires the
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to consider Philadelphia zoning requirements
when awarding two casino licenses in the city.
Under an amendment introduced by state Sen. Vince Fumo
(D-Philadelphia,) Senate Bill 862 now includes many of the same zoning
provisions contained in the city’s Commercial and Entertainment District
A previous version of the bill approved by the House of
Representatives had totally pre-empted Philadelphia’s zoning regulations as they
apply to the two slot machine facilities that will be located in Philadelphia.
Working closely with, and at the behest of, city council members Frank DiCicco
and Jim Kenney, Fumo ensured that concerns of city residents will be addressed,
especially those who live and work closest to the gambling establishments.
“The action by the House left the city completely
powerless. We thought it was important to restore the city’s ability to
determine what kind of impact these casinos will have on local communities. By
requiring the state Gaming Board to use the city zoning ordinances, we
accomplished that,” Fumo said.
The difference, according to Fumo, is that authority
over those zoning issues will rest with the state instead of the city. That is
necessary, he said, so that the issues can be addressed quickly and not be
delayed, perhaps for years, through the city zoning process.
“The revenue from slot machines statewide will provide
hundreds of millions of dollars of tax reductions, including significant wage
tax cuts for Philadelphia workers, and property tax cuts for Philadelphia senior
citizens. It will also mean more than $24 million annually to the city treasury,
plus debt relief for the Convention Center. The casinos will be a source of many
new jobs. It is important that we not permit those benefits to be delayed by a
small handful of people who might have a different agenda than the larger
community,” Fumo said.
“I am confident that the state Gaming Board will
effectively enforce the Philadelphia zoning provisions that we are now including
in state law,” he added.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 50-0. As the
legislation now reads, the Gaming Board would make sure that casino operators
abide by a wide variety of city rules regarding:
• Traffic flow;
• Size of the facility;
• Size and quantity of signage;
• Ratios of parking spaces to the size of the facility;
• Public access to the waterfront (for casinos located on the Delaware River);
• Distance the facility must be set back from the street;
In addition, city government would be guaranteed legal
standing to participate in the Gaming Control Board’s decisions, and in state
“Under this system, if the elected officials of the
city believe the Gaming Board has erred, they can challenge the decisions in
state court,” Fumo said.
Act 71, the law passed in 2004 that originally
authorized slot machine gambling in the Pennsylvania, gave the state authority
over all local zoning matter relative to casinos, but the state Supreme Court
struck down that portion of the bill.
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