Though racetrack slot machines still haven't been approved by the Pennsylvania legislature, the Bensalem Township Council is scheduled to vote April 14 on Philadelphia Park's plans for a building to house the machines.
Bensalem Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo said he is "optimistic" the legislature would pass a slots bill, and that 3,000 machines would be installed in the temporary home the racetrack wants to construct.
Philly Park president Bob Green said the building, expected to cost $100 million, would be composed of three smaller hangar-type, metal structures that would be connected and give the impressive of one large building. It would be located in the track's massive front parking lot.
Construction could begin within a month. If a slots bill passes, Green said a permanent "casino" would be constructed adjacent to the main grandstand.
Green said the reason he is submitting the building proposal for approval now is that he wants to be ready when slots become a reality. "Without doing this preparatory work, we wouldn't be able to meet the timetable (Gov. Ed Rendell) would like, and that is to be open by the end of the year," he told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Some lawmakers believe a slots bill could face a bumpy ride. Sen. Robert Tomlinson said there's only a "50-50 chance" a bill will pass even with Rendell being pro-slots.
Green supports a bill introduced by Tomlinson, but Thoroughbred horsemen aren't in favor of it. The measure would give racetracks 54% of slots revenue, the state 30%, and purses 16%. Horsemen want a high percentage of revenue, as well as live-racing protection language in the bill.