Delaware City Council Faces Threats for Being Against Slot Machines

On February 21, 2007, it was reported that the plans to construct 2 slots parlors on Delaware Avenue will not push through if it does not manage to gather enough support, that is according to City Councilman Frank DiCicco.

DiCicco, the council’s main opponent to the slots idea, commented that a voter referendum would effectively prohibit the SugarHouse Casino and the Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia from the 2 locations near the Delaware River. Last Wednesday, DiCicco stated that unless there is a great deal of support from the residents for the slot casinos, there is only a slight chance of getting it approved.

He was also unable to convince the 5 other members of the Council’s Rules Committee to move other legislations that are against the casino. Any proposals and laws that disqualify the decision of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to give licenses to the SugarHouse Casino located in Fishtown and the Foxwoods Casino located in South Philadelphia is likely to be questioned in court.

During the council hearing last Wednesday, Foxwoods said that if any move is made to cancel the license, they will sue the city. State lawmakers can also change any measure that may block the construction of the casino, which is considered to be a good source of revenue in the near future. Legislators are also hopeful that the slots revenues from the 14 casinos scattered across the state will provide at least $1 billion, which will in turn bring down the property and wage tax cuts.

Some of the opponents of the slots are the Casino Free Philadelphia whose members include council candidates, residents near the casinos’ locations and various anti-gambling groups. Many of them want to ban the casinos or place them in other areas. They have already collected a lot of signatures to force the council to decide on the matter. 9 of the 17 council members would need to give their consent in order for the casino question to be put into the ballot for the decision of the voters next month. If the bill is approved, it will be given to Mayor Street for a decision, where the council expects a veto on the matter. If the council hopes to override that veto, they need a total of 12 votes.

Mayor Street’s spokesman, Joe Grace, has referred the questions to City Solicitor, Romulo L. Diaz Jr., who in turn, has declined to comment on the matter. Mayor Street has been an avid supporter of casino slots for a very long time now.

Daniel Hunter, Coordinator for Casino Free Philadelphia, commented that if the council passes the proposal and voters approve of the charter change, the legislators will not have any strength to challenge the zoning capability of the city.

A number of legislators who have supported the slot machines have lost their positions. Slots critics are sure that they can threaten to remove the legislators from their positions if they will preempt the zoning law so that they can counter the ballot decision.

One of the legislators, Delaware State Representative, William Keller, whose district includes the Foxwoods Casino, commented to the residents of the area that the preemption plan will absolutely not happen. The issue has already become a significant problem for many council members who are hoping to be reelected. A lot of Building-Trades leaders are avid supporters of casinos and many council members rely heavily on union support.