Big 'yes' from council, residents on mini-casino for Reading

'It will spur downtown revitalization'

READING, Pa. - Ten mini-casino licenses are up for grabs in Pennsylvania, and thanks to a vote by Reading City Council, the city is making itself more attractive to potential casino developers.

On Monday night, the seven council members put forth a unanimous "yes" vote that will now put the city into potential bidding mode for future casino locations.

"It's gotta go someplace, it might as well come to Reading," said Sixth District Councilman John Slifko, following the vote.

The mini-casino could have between 300 and 750 slot machines and eventually up to 50 table games.

While city officials are on board, what about residents?

"I will check them out. I like casinos. Go gamble, see what it's about," said Linda Garcia of Reading.

But there are also concerns about potential negatives.

"People are drinking and gambling and people get crazy," Garcia said.

One man wasn't worried so much about crime, but rather keeping things peaceful back at home.

"I wouldn't go too often. My wife would kill me," Randy Barrell of Kenhorst told 69 News.

One Reading resident was excited about the potential proximity.

"It's so close, I could walk down there, depending on where it's at in Reading," Gary Feltenberger said.

It's too early to know where a casino might go, but Mayor Wally Scott said interested parties have approached him about specific locations.

"Where the bank is at Fifth and Penn and the big building that's there, too," explained Scott.

Additionally, the mayor said a developer is looking at another location between Fifth and Sixth streets on Penn.

"The next step is they're letting us know, come down, take a look at it. Whether they acquire the license or not, we're in the running for it," Scott explained.

It's the opportunity for economic growth that has many excited.

"With casino gambling, there are negatives, but I think the positives outweigh it," Slifko said. "It will spur downtown revitalization."

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