Casino Proves to Be a plus for Community in Pennsylvania

October 16, 2013
By

Bensalem, Pa. is by all accounts an area of Greater Philadelphia very similar to East Boston and Revere. Bordering the northwest corner of Philly, Bensalem has long been a diverse ethnic enclave with blue-collar roots that prides itself on the hard work of its residents and small business owners.

In 2006 the Philadelphia Park Racetrack was awarded a conditional slots license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and began building a casino at the aging racetrack. By 2010 the racetrack, renamed Parx Casino and Racing, was a full-scale 24-hour casino with 3,500 slots, 140 table games, restaurants and a racetrack.

The East Boston Times talked with numerous business owners, realtors, elected officials and law enforcement agents with the intent to print anything and everything they said about Parx Casino whether good or bad.

What we found is that the casino in Bensalem was not the ruination of a small hardworking blue-collar town but help jumpstart the revival of Bensalem and many people there welcomed the addition.

Last year Money Magazine named Bensalem one of the Top 100 places to live in the U.S., an honor that Bensalem Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo loves to point out.

DiGirolamo, Bensalem’s five-term mayor who was reelected in 2009, said in the past few years there’s been a boom in development and more and more people are flocking from the neighboring big city to his town.

DiGirolamo said, “Money Magazine called us a “Model for America” so we are very proud of that. Over the past few years we’ve seen development along the water on the river where market rate condos are going for $400,000 and up.”

As for the impacts Parx Casino has had on his community DiGirolamo said they are negligible.

“I’ve been involved since its inception to make sure Bensalem got its fair share,” he said. “Our police can tell you that the crime and traffic that was predicted by anti-casino groups never materialized.”

While DiGirolamo admits there have been isolated incidents over the years it is nothing out of the ordinary.

“The problems we’ve had in and around the casino are the same problems we had before the casino was built at shopping malls and would have probably occurred had we built any other large scale development,” said DiGirol

  • Matt

    Parx Casino is 19 miles from downtown Philadelphia. That would be like putting a casino in Beverly or Framingham. Parx is also right on an interstate. An urban casino on the subway without highway access in a dense residential neighborhood will be totally different.

  • Jim

    “The East Boston Times talked with numerous business owners, realtors, elected officials and law enforcement agents with the intent to print anything and everything they said about Parx Casino whether good or bad.”

    Of course, this needed to be said explicitly because it’s not the paper’s usual policy.

  • CasinosRuinNeighborhoods

    I smell a Pulitzer for this one. Truly the gold standard for journalism that we have here right in Eastie.

  • I hope the Times’ next “investigative report” is on the city of Niagara Falls, NY, whose ONE casino is described as “a jewel surrounded by blight, crime and depression”:

    “Look no further than Niagara Falls. Wasn’t the Indian-run casino
    supposed to be the catalyst that turned around the dying city and made
    it an American version of Niagara Falls, Ont.? Take a walk around the
    American side (that is, if you feel safe doing so) – the Seneca Niagara
    Casino and Hotel is a jewel surrounded by blight, crime, and depression.
    It has done nothing to excite development and, if anything, it has made
    the poor poorer in the city limits.”

    http://niagara-gazette.com/opinion/x1442585293/CONFER-Proposition-1-is-a-losing-bet

    As for Bensalem, when was the last time there was a story like this in East Boston: http://www.phillyburbs.com/00redesign/news/communities/bensalem/cops-bensalem-woman-stole-from-neighbors/article_dcc77446-d780-567d-a398-257e77be3eb9.html

    Bensalem has, in recent years, developed quite a serious prescription drug problem…connection? http://www.phillyburbs.com/00redesign/news/local/bensalem-police-gearing-up-for-war-on-drugs/article_15b7d34e-9350-550c-9021-cb4d3483800d.html

    And as a reminder, PA’s slots revenues are down every quarter because of saturation in the mid-atlantic region. When New York’s casinos open, Bensalem’s Parx Casino and all the rest will be flailing, Atlantic City-style: http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20131003/NEWS90/131009921/-1/NEWS

  • Oh, and this: East Boston unemployment rate July 2013- 7.6% Bensalem township unemployment rate July 2013- 7.7% “IT’S ABOUT JOBS”

  • Webster_Street

    Nice “investigative report” – funny how it coincides with a remarkably similar advertisement from Suffolk Downs, oh sorry, paid for by “Friends of Suffolk Downs.”

    I can’t wait ‘til we beat the casino on November 5th and the SD advertising money to The East Boston Times dries up. Maybe then the paper can give the Jevelli’s coupon gets better placement and they can also expand their great directory of out-of-business vendors with disconnected phone numbers.
    Look forward to that John?

  • Horace Steenblatter

    Amazingly shoddy reporting. Anyone looking at a map can see Bensalem borders the northeast corner of Philadelphia, not the northwest.

  • Boston Strong

    It makes me sad that so many people only look at the negative side of things. A neighborhood is a product of the people who live in it. Judging by the amount of people I see blatantly throwing trash into the street and the poor condition of many houses, I think it’s safe to say a large percentage of our residents have no respect for our neighborhood to begin with. Adding a casino isn’t going to change anything (aside from the traffic concerns). It will mostly just improve things by bringing in new taxes to clean up the streets and bringing in people with money who want to spend it. Case in point, look how well Rino’s is doing now that people from all over know to go there. Crime is and always will be an issue because we live in a city. And how can you argue about the job creation? No casino = no jobs either.

  • Dont be a hater

    I love how it’s the same 5 people who can’t wait to shit on the Times because the story says something that goes against their argument (or because they are all wannabe reporters). Ever notice when the Times says something (on occasion) that agrees with their agenda? Funny how the Times is on par with and quoted like the WSJ or the NYT then. Right? Relax people – it’s a local weekly newspaper not the next version of the King James Bible. Nobody is putting toothpicks to hold your eyelids open to read it. Besides, seems like you can find all the quality journalism you crave in the new publication littering the streets of EB known as the Specter.

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