“Awright lemme get an order of the snow crabs, crab fries — Joey, you gonna eat the crab fries also? — awright two crab fries and let’s get pitcher of Yuengling. Also lemme get the Iggles plus-six for 25 bucks and what’s Jalen Hurts for the first touchdown? It’s plus-900? Awright, five bucks there.”
The above scenario might — might — be coming to the Chickie’s & Pete’s on Packer Avenue if the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment allows it, according to an article in the Philadelphia Business Journal.
A hearing was held Wednesday but failed to produce a decision on the fate of the potential of the Turf Club — currently located inside the South Philadelphia Race & Sportsbook, and owned and operated by Parx — to move its sportsbook operations to the sports bar a mile down the road from Lincoln Financial Field.
As it stands currently, the Turf Club’s turf has been invaded by the recent opening of Live! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia, which sits directly across the street from the Parx-affiliated property.
According to the article, the Turf Club wants to offer horse race betting and sports betting at the restaurant, a move opposed by the Packer Park Civic Association, as well as the city.
The key point of contention as argued by the city is that by law, only casinos can have sportsbooks.
“In order to offer sports wagering in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania you must be a licensed facility,” said Leonard Reuter, senior attorney for the city, according to the article. “Therefore, if you offer sports wagering you are a casino under The Philadelphia Code because our code says if you’re a licensed facility, you’re a casino. In order to offer sports wagering you must be a licensed facility, ergo you must be a casino by definition.”
There are currently the sum total of zero casino or gaming licenses available in Philadelphia.
A different view
The attorney for The Turf Club and Parx argued against this viewing of the law, stating that the city’s interpretation of the zoning code is “completely incorrect,” as there are no plans to have anything resembling a casino inside Chickie’s and Pete’s.
“The issue that has been raised is whether us having sports wagering makes us a casino and, in opposition, I think it’s abundantly clear under the city code and the state statutes that we are not a casino just because we have sports wagering,” Mattioni said, according to the report. “We will not and cannot — we are prohibited by the state [gaming] act from having slot machines and table games — we cannot be a casino.”
The first move in this battle was launched on July 31, when the Turf Club first filed an application for the move to Chickie’s & Pete’s. They were told it would take a special zoning exception, and that hearing happened on Dec. 1.
But on Feb. 3, Reuter told everyone that the original application should have been denied from the outset.
March 9 is scheduled for the next zoning board hearing on the matter.