Sylvester Stallone winked and brought his fist to his chest as if to say, “I know you’ll do the right thing.” Who could say no to that?
Appearing in a recorded video message, Stallone, famous for his movie role as hard-luck Philadelphia boxer Rocky Balboa, was part of a parade of celebrities and gambling executives who asked Pennsylvania state regulators last week for a casino license in Rocky’s hometown.
For three days last week, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board heard testimony from the applicants in advance of a Dec. 20 licensing vote.
Most of the testimony revolved around topics like business plans, financial backing and traffic studies, leavened by occasional celebrity cameos. Actor Bruce Willis recorded a video message, and other celebrities, including music producer Quincy Jones and Donald Trump, showed up in person.
Five competitors professional casino operators with politically connected or celebrity investment partners are vying for two slot-machine gambling licenses in Philadelphia, which could become the nation’s biggest city with a casino.
One message from the casino hopefuls was that big names will be a free advertisement to draw gamblers to their establishments to spend money that will eventually become tax revenue for Pennsylvania.