Note to my PA listeners: I told you so! Ed Rendell (you remember him--the former Philly mayor, turned temporary DNC Chairman, turned part-time sports analyst, part-time governor) wants Donald Trump to consider operating some or all of the 14 slot parlors PA plans to open next year. "I want the best operators who will put the best facilities together," Rendell said after an appearance at the New Jersey Conference of Mayors, held--where else--at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino-Hotel in Atlantic City. "The Trump name would be a big draw, so we would encourage him to bid on a license." Trump Hotels President Scott Butera says that Trump's casino company does, in fact, want to run a slot parlor in Philadelphia to complement its New Jersey holdings; that, according to The Press of Atlantic City. Apparently, the company has been already checking out sites, and has one particularly in mind. Once again: I told you so. I've endeavored to keep my listeners ahead of this story all the way, and I know it will sound familiar to others who live in states that endorse, even conduct, lotteries and other forms of gambling. It began just a few years ago as a suggestion for a "handful" of slot machines, posted at just a few horse racetracks around PA; ostensibly, the gaming would help "preserve the fine tradition of horse racing in the Commonwealth." Of course, it was baloney then, and it’s old, rancid baloney now. All across the state, Pennsylvanians who bought into the real estate tax rebates and education funding promises that gambling advocates dangled before them, are now struggling to keep casino gaming from spiraling out of control in their own communities. Ask the families of Adams County, near the Gettysburg Battlefield, now battling a proposed casino in their backyards. How many times over the past 6 years have I marched guests through my studio warning that, if you give casino gaming an inch, it will take a mile? How often have I related my own experience living and working in Atlantic City, watching friends on both sides of the dealer's table forfeit their families, their finances, and their futures on the unlikely dream of "the big payoff?"
Here's the kicker: Trump's casino company recently won court approval for its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Next month, it is expected to formally emerge from bankruptcy court protection, boasting a $500 million line of credit. How will the money be used? To renovate Trump's Atlantic City properties, and--possibly--to build in Pennsylvania.
King Solomon nailed it beautifully: When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan. Where casino gambling and its effects are concerned, my PA friends...your agony has only just begun.