Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Earth & Environmental Sciences


John Seley

Subject Categories



casinos, economic geography, gravity modeling, Philadelphia, urban geography


Recently, casino gaming has emerged in the United States in a variety of new locations as a source of economic development. Despite this, in the United States there has been only a very limited amount of research that has examined gambling from a spatial perspective. An important concern identified in international gambling research is that of problem gambling. This project seeks to examine the potential impacts of casinos in the major metropolitan area of Philadelphia, which is currently the largest city in the United States with an open commercial casino. There are three additional casinos in the metropolitan region. In order to examine the decisions that led to the casino locations, interviews and media and policy analysis were conducted. To ascertain the vulnerability to problem gaming of the neighborhoods where casinos are located in the metropolitan area of Philadelphia, a GIS vulnerability model was created. The model combines an index of socioeconomic disadvantage and a gravity model in order to examine the accessibility to the casino of those most vulnerable to problem gaming. For validation, the model is rerun for the two casinos of metropolitan Pittsburgh. The GIS results show that three out of the four casinos in metropolitan Philadelphia are located in areas where people are vulnerable to problem gaming. Through the interviews and media analysis, it is revealed that a variety of stakeholders were involved in the casino location process, and some effects of the casinos, both good and bad, have been observed so far. These findings demonstrate a need for public policy to mitigate the potential impacts of problem gaming on the community. The GIS model created for this project is the first vulnerability study of a major urban area in the United States. It has the potential to be used in developing guidelines and regulations for new casinos as they are introduced throughout the United States as well as to contribute to international gambling research. Additionally, the model may be modified to examine the impact of others forms of consumption based economic development both domestically and abroad.

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