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Members of the anti-casino group Casino-Free Philadelphia at a protest last winter in Old City. The organization will hold an informational event for Penn students tomorrow night at the Rotunda.

With the support of various City organizations and elected officials, casino development is well on its way in Philadelphia, casino officials say.

Foxwoods Resort Casino has begun exploring a relocation to the Gallery complex on 9th and Market streets, according to a recent press release.

In the release, Mayor Michael Nutter said, "My administration continues to believe that locating the casino at the Market East site will stimulate overdue redevelopment in this area."

For now, Foxwoods is waiting for approval by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, after which it will begin "Phase I" of its plans.

According to the press release, Foxwoods' Phase I would include 3,000 slot machines, 7,400 parking spaces within a five-minute walk, the employment of 450 people and "the most convenient rail and bus access of any casino in the country."

SugarHouse Casino, which plans to develop in Fishtown on North Delaware Avenue between Ellen Street and Shackamaxon Street, is waiting on "additional permits and approvals" from the City, SugarHouse spokeswoman Leigh Whitaker wrote in an e-mail.

Nutter's administration and the District Councilman Frank DiCicco are "committed to working with us to develop and build our project," Whitaker wrote.

Construction of the casino will begin about four months after the Gaming Board approves its modified development plan, she added.

With regard to the current economic situation, Whitaker wrote that SugarHouse is confident "we will be able to secure financing for our project."

She added that SugarHouse's Phase I casino will begin with an Interim casino, which will later become a portion of the finished structure. The Interim casino, expected to open in 2010, will include 1,700 slots and three restaurants.

Fishtown residents say they look forward to the new casino and its accompanying attractions.

"I think it's a positive development and will bring jobs and economic development to the community," said Maggie O'Brien, a Fishtown Action representative.

Though the casinos have been highly contested in the city, O'Brien said she is not worried that SugarHouse will be a dangerous addition to the community because "there is no significant increase in crime" around the Philadelphia Parks casino in Bensalem, Pa.

She added that the casino promised to use local businesses for flowers and other goods, which will cause a "trickle-down" effect since these local businesses will then hire more workers.

Still, some community groups in the city oppose the construction of these casinos.

Casino-Free Philadelphia, one such organization, will hold an informational event at the Rotunda on Wednesday.

* This article was edited at 5:45 p.m. on April 14 to reflect the correct name of the district councilman for Fishtown.

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