Bensalem, Pa. is by all accounts an area of Greater Philadelphia very similar to East Boston and Revere. Bordering the northwest corner of Philly, Bensalem has long been a diverse ethnic enclave with blue-collar roots that prides itself on the hard work of its residents and small business owners.
In 2006 the Philadelphia Park Racetrack was awarded a conditional slots license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and began building a casino at the aging racetrack. By 2010 the racetrack, renamed Parx Casino and Racing, was a full-scale 24-hour casino with 3,500 slots, 140 table games, restaurants and a racetrack.
The East Boston Times talked with numerous business owners, realtors, elected officials and law enforcement agents with the intent to print anything and everything they said about Parx Casino whether good or bad.
What we found is that the casino in Bensalem was not the ruination of a small hardworking blue-collar town but help jumpstart the revival of Bensalem and many people there welcomed the addition.
Last year Money Magazine named Bensalem one of the Top 100 places to live in the U.S., an honor that Bensalem Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo loves to point out.
DiGirolamo, Bensalem’s five-term mayor who was reelected in 2009, said in the past few years there’s been a boom in development and more and more people are flocking from the neighboring big city to his town.
DiGirolamo said, “Money Magazine called us a “Model for America” so we are very proud of that. Over the past few years we’ve seen development along the water on the river where market rate condos are going for $400,000 and up.”
As for the impacts Parx Casino has had on his community DiGirolamo said they are negligible.
“I’ve been involved since its inception to make sure Bensalem got its fair share,” he said. “Our police can tell you that the crime and traffic that was predicted by anti-casino groups never materialized.”
While DiGirolamo admits there have been isolated incidents over the years it is nothing out of the ordinary.
“The problems we’ve had in and around the casino are the same problems we had before the casino was built at shopping malls and would have probably occurred had we built any other large scale development,” said DiGirol