In 2004, Pennsylvania legalized slots gaming as a way to raise tax revenue in the state. Two slots casinos – Foxwoods and SugarHouse – were awarded licenses for Philadelphia. In July of 2010, the state legalized table gaming as well. Philadelphia's first casino, SugarHouse, opened in September 2010.
Run by HSP Gaming, SugarHouse is Philadelphia's first casino, situated on the Delaware waterfront in Fishtown. It features three restaurants, over 1,500 slot machines and 40 table games. SugarHouse is open 24 hours a day.
Foxwoods, whose flagship casino is in Ledyard, Connecticut, originally proposed a $670-million, 3,000-slot space on the South Philadelphia waterfront. After coming up against community opposition, however, the casino tried to move first to the Gallery at Market East and then to the old Strawbridge & Clothier store at 8th and Market. After both of these plans fell through, casino owner Steve Wynn considered taking over the project, but then backed out. Construction of the Foxwoods casino has yet to begin.
Opposition and Support
The main group opposing the casinos is Casino Free Philadelphia, whose concerns include:
- A gambling-related rise in crime
- Increase in gambling addiction
- Gambling's effect on families and the poor
- The physical proximity of the casinos to homes
NABR (Neighbors Allied for the Best Riverfront), the Society Hill Civic Association, the Queen Village Neighbors Association and other groups have also filed petitions with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania against SugarHouse and Foxwoods.
While support for casinos in Philadelphia is not as closely organized as the opposition, there are many who support the casinos, citing:
- Increased tax revenue
- More jobs
According to a Pew Charitable Trust poll from April 2009, 53% of Philadelphia residents support slots gaming in the city, while 41% are against it. Support is stronger for casinos built outside of the Center City area.