Category Archives: Casinos

Join Casino Free Philadelphia for the launch of their latest campaign tomorrow

Please join us tomorrow, Wednesday evening, from 6-8:30pm at the offices of Liberty Resources, 714 Market Street, as we unveil our newest campaign during this critical phase.

As you know, we have been working for some time to brainstorm and plan. We’ve talked to many of you; we’ve analyzed the status of the various permit applications, the financial situation and the legal landscape. We’ve listened and we’ve even adjusted our game plan. Based on the external events, we believe our movement now has a short but incredibly valuable window of opportunity — about 6 months — to change hearts and minds. And, that’s just what we’re going to do, with your help and dedication.

Join us tomorrow, Wednesday evening, from 6-8:30pm, as we Declare Our Independence from Casinos. Join us to learn about our upcoming search for an elected official who will stand with us. Join us as we prepare to draft our manifesto against casinos in our City. Join us as we set out to organize citizens from all across Philadelphia.

At the meeting we’ll present to you an ambitious, necessary and forceful campaign; and we’ll continue to incorporate your input. We will provide an opportunity for you to plug into our efforts and become responsible for specific tasks. The time is right for you to become even more involved, even more committed and even more protective of your beloved City.

Bring your neighbors, bring your friends and bring your passion.


Amy, Ivan, Jethro and the entire team at Casino-Free Philadelphia

Chinatown Speaks on Casinos, DiCicco Doesn’t Hear

A packed house at Holy Redeemer Church at 10th and Vine streets tottered on the edge of out of control for over three hours last night. Frank DiCicco, Mike O’Brien, Terry Gillen and Andrew Altman called a meeting with the Chinatown community to apparently introduce representatives from Foxwoods, the casino now proposed to be built at 8th and Market of all places.

Philadelphia neigbhorhoods have been fighting casino development for two years. For two years neither casino would entertain the idea of resiting. Recently Foxwoods agreed against all expectation to discuss resiting and then almost immediately announced the new location would be 8th and Market Streets.

Unfortunately the siting was once again done without public input and without regard to the wishes of the immediate neighborhood. This meeting was the first time DicCicco, O’Brien or representatives from the mayor’s office have met with the neighborhood.

Very disappointing about last night’s meeting was that representatives didn’t meet with residents before bringing the developer and representatives before them and repeatedly ignored pleas for support from neighbors. They stood on the same side of the table with developers and told residents this would be good for their neighborhood and there was nothing they could do and residents should work to mitigate.

I remind those that may not remember that when I met DiCicco two years ago he told us that there was nothing he could do and we should get the best deal possible. Here were are two years later, neither casino is built or even has building permits and Foxwoods is considering resiting. That tells me he was wrong two years ago and it means he’s likely wrong again. Either way it is his responsibility to stand up for his constituency regardless of his own feelings on the matter.

Officials got an earful from residents: neighbors young and old spoke out in English and Chinese passionately against casinos and plead for support from DiCicco. He was a strong advocate for South Philadelphia when Foxwoods was proposed for Columbus and Reed Streets, he seems unwilling to be an advocate for Chinatown: “Vote me out” was his repeated response when residents asked for his support. The question and answer session became one passionate plea for help after another. At one point an activist asked everyone in the room who was here to oppose casinos to stand. In a room of 100 plus people less than 10 remained sitting.

DICicco has pledged to enter CED (Commercial Entertainment District) zoning next week. He has told residents he believes this will revitalize their neighborhoods. His answer when asked for support is “Vote me out.” It is sad that he is not listening to his constituency and instead is standing with the developer on what could be the single largest impacting development on Chinatown and perhaps all of Center City.

Foxwoods talks about resiting, Sugarhouse?

B shook me out of half sleep this morning to Paul Boni on the radio talking about Foxwoods and the casino issue. She’s new to the issue but knows Paul because he’s a friend. I arrived at work to a “Foxwoods says it will consider a new site” on the front page of the Metro.

The media is going crazy:
Daily News “[resiting is a] responsible idea”
Channel 3 (Note is use of “not a done deal”)
Inquirer “..intractable state and local opposition”
Phillynews blogs
Al Dia (translated)

How far we’ve come. Politicians are almost unanimously talking about resiting. One operator is talking about resiting. There is no doubt now that the neighborhoods don’t want it.

Sugarhouse, the casino in the North and the most vocal of the two in its determination to stay on its site isn’t likely to meet with law makers until after Labor Day.

It’s not over by a long shot. The naysayers are just dying to point out how hard resiting could be. Discussions of an open and transparent process at the press conference apparently killed the mood.. Resiting is going to be hard.

Not resiting is going to be worse: for us and for them. The opposition is not going anywhere, we live here.

Really it’s simple: re-site now and construction will begin. Stick to the sites and neighborhood opposition will remain. Act 71, the law that brought us gaming, allows for the operators to ask for new sites. The door is now open: law makers are willing to talk about new sites. There’s no time like the present: either the operators move willingly or we keep pushing until they’re forced to move.

Nutter speaks to Council about casinos

The third of four city council hearings on whether to award Foxwoods casino their CED (commercial entertainment district) zoning took place on Friday. The hearing may be moot in light of this week’s supreme court ruling but council choose to hold the hearing and Mayor Nutter spoke strongly on the matter.

Nutter said: “It is clear that the proposed Foxwoods site is the wrong site for Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” He said it is the responsibility of Council and the Mayor to “…represent our constituents and run the city of Philadelphia in a forthright, open and transparent fashion.” He spoke of the potentially enormous impact casinos may have on Philadelphia, he thanked council for holding the hearings.

“If. If. If we are to have gaming in Philadelphia there is a way to do it, there is a way right that works for the citizens of this city, that works for the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

He spoke firmly about the increased infrastructure costs, particularly police, that the casinos will levy upon the city. He said these costs were not considered in the budget, the five year and the city should not have to pay for them.

He ended with: “…We have an obligation to the citizens of this city and residents of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that if there is to be casino gaming in Philadelphia that it is done properly, it is done respectfully, it is done thoughtfully, and that it uses the best land use planning principles and we not allow ourselves to be lulled by the various interests who have their interests and not our interests at heart.”

This is strong stuff. So far Nutter has not spoken without purpose. He clearly chooses his words carefully. He twice referred to casinos as ‘if:’ likely not a mistake or oversight on his part. He speaks clearly and deliberately without hesitation or second thought. This is why we elected him, this is the stuff that changes cities.

Update, 4/26/08: I am not sure I can give credit but this is posted publicly:

LTE: “Rendell calls Council gutless over casinos.”

January 31, 2007

Dear Editor:

Re: “Rendell calls Council gutless over casinos”

Rendell is kowtowing to casino interests and ignoring the very neighborhoods he had a hand in rejuvenating. Rendell needs to understand that City Council is listening to its constituency. The people are not against jobs or development: they are fighting for the future of their neighborhoods.

City Council has the courage to listen to its constituency and stand up to a Governor who ignores the facts. Public officials listening to their constituency as Council is doing is not extortion, it’s their job, it’s why we elected them and we applaud them for it.

Make no mistake: most of us opposed to the locations of these facilities are not against gaming or job creation for the city. We simply don’t want to see our neighborhoods destroyed. If these are moved out of neighborhoods the opposition will largely disappear and Rendell and the casinos will get their chance to attempt to create jobs and tax relief.

The casino operators can start building right away by simply choosing sites outside of neighborhoods. The law allows it the best of my knowledge and City Council would likely support it.

If Rendell wants gaming in Philadelphia the solution is very simple: he can join Senator Fumo, City Council and much of the Philadelphia Delegation and move theses facilities to sites where they are not opposed. It is not enough that he asked the developers to move, he needs to take the initiative and make it happen. The neighborhoods don’t want them–how can we make that any more clear?

Make no mistake, the opposition to these casinos is significant and we will not let up. We have fought these locations for well over a year and we will continue to fight them until they are moved. If they are built where they are proposed we will work to shut them down.

Morgan Jones
Fishtown Resident

LTE: The ‘New Vince’ tastes suspiciously refreshing

December 3, 2007

Dear Editor:

Re: “The ‘New Vince’ tastes suspiciously refreshing”, Daily News 10/3

John Baer is right to point out the sudden 180-degree turn that Vince Fumo has done on casinos, but is the ‘New Vince’ ready to really step and do something to sway the skeptical voters who know and are warming up to Anne Dicker?

To my untrained eye it looks like Fumo is nervous. The neighborhoods are still vocally against casinos, Fumo is facing what appears to be a strong indictment and Dicker, a strong advocate with a record of standing up for neighborhoods and opposing casinos, is on the hunt.

The fact is Fumo is the self identified author of the law that brought gambling to Pennsylvania. Fumo did nothing when this law was used to to strip Philadelphians of their right to vote on whether to keep casinos away from neighborhoods. Fumo did nothing when Fourteen of us traveled to Harrisburg and got arrested asking the Gaming Control board to open up their records last winter. Fumo was not there to support the Philly Ballot Box initiative this spring. When casino opponents held their own “citizen’s referendum” on a buffer zone between casinos and homes, Michael Nutter, Tom Knox, Chaka Fattah, Bob Brady, Mike O’Brien and most of our city’s political leaders supported the effort and voted in the referendum, but Fumo did nothing.

Many of us have given up more than a year of our lives to fight casino development in our neighborhoods. We want to believe Fumo is really in this to the end but he’s going to have to actually move these casinos before election day if he wants my vote and my neighbors’ votes. I want to trust and support him but the old Vince is too fresh on my mind to allow anything short of action to sway me.

We will fight casino development in our neighborhoods until they are moved. If they are built we will shut them down. Period. If Vince Fumo wants our support he is going to have to move the casinos before the election, it’s just too easy for him to be our ally until the election is over.

Morgan Jones
Fishtown Resident
FAST (Fishtown Against Sugarhouse Takeover)

LTE: Guest essay: Slot machines benefit Pa. in many ways

November 20, 2007

Dear Editor,

Re: Guest essay: Slot machines benefit Pa. in many ways

Gaming in Pennsylvania is not a rosy picture as Ms. Colins has painted for your readers. Act 71, the Pennsylvania gaming law, has granted casinos licenses at two of the worst possible locations in Philadelphia. These developments threaten to destroy some of Philadelphia’s highest valued and most historic neighborhoods.

Neighborhood opposition to these locations has been fierce and nearly unanimous. Despite well over a year of consistent opposition the City, State and the casinos themselves continue to wage war on the neighborhoods by refusing to talk about re-siting these facilities. This is the first time casinos have been placed in densely populated thriving city neighborhoods and we don’t want to be the gaming industry’s experiment!

This will be a huge experiment at the expense of our neighborhoods. They can be just as effective at generating revenue at alternate, unopposed locations in the city. The sooner these locations are found the sooner they can be built and start generating revenue.

We have asked and we have begged for assistance. We are now heavily fortified and ready to fight this to the end. My neighbors an I ask Ms. Colins, the rest of the Gaming Control Board and the state as a whole to stand with us to save our neighborhoods and find other locations where these are not opposed.

We will not back down as long as casinos are planned for the central Delaware riverfront in Philadelphia or any location where they are opposed by neighbors. We have delayed them since the licenses were awarded on December 20, 2006, nearly a year ago Even if these are built we will fight them until they are shut down. Period. If they are moved out of neighborhoods that oppose them they will be built and open in peace.

While I can’t speak first hand for the situation across Pennsylvania I urge your readers to look more deeply into gaming in Pennsylvania. My and my neighbor’s experience has taught that the process is deeply flawed and has the potential to leave permanent, damaging scars on Pennsylvania and its people.

Morgan Jones
Fistown (Philadelphia) Resident
FAST (Fishtown Against Sugarhouse Takeover)

LTE: “Official Negotiations for CBA Begin”

October 11, 2007

Dear Editor:

Re: “Official Negotiations for CBA Begin” in Spirit Community Newspapers 10/4/2007

Your representation of the the casino “negotiations” taking place at the Hyatt is unbalanced. These negotiations are led by the developer and attended only by self-described pro-casino groups. You have also failed to mention that there were called in direct opposition to Fishtown Neighbors Association’s (FNA’s) request for time to obtain proper legal counsel.

There is nothing “formal” about these negotiations—they are a public relations stunt by Sugarhouse to lead us to believe their development has community support.

These “negotiations” are a clear attempt by the developer to move the casino development time line along with no regard for the community groups who truly represent the neighborhoods. NKCDC does not represent the community, they are a corporation. Fishtown Action (FACT), though it contains members of the Fishtown community, is a pro-casino advocacy group that has received funding from, held welcoming parties for and openly supports the very developer they are “negotiating” with.

Your story sounds like it comes from the public relations arm of Sugarhouse which would have you and the rest of the city believe they are honest brokers. Casinos are a corporate interest with one motive: profit. Make no mistake: they did not call negotiations with the interest of the community in mind, they are looking to open quickly in proximity to neighborhoods to make a profit.

True negotiations should be led by the community groups themselves on a time line that allows them to really address the needs of the community and not simply rush into a Community Benefits Agreement so the developer can accelerate their development time line.

Morgan Jones
Fishtown Resident

LTE: “Citing delays, casinos balk at fees”

August 28, 2007

Dear Editor:

Re: “Citing delays, casinos balk at fees” in Daily News 8/28/07

This article is a perfect illustration of why re-siting is in the casino operators’ best interest. Many of us are neither anti-casino nor anti-gaming. We are more than happy for the casinos to relocate to sites in the city that are outside of neighborhoods or in neighborhoods where they are wanted.

We are not looking to directly hurt the operators or inflict financial harm, we are protecting our homes and neighborhoods. This is a perfect opportunity for the casinos to ask for new sites. The casino operators can easily get their facilities open and effect the decision of city council: they can work with neighborhoods and the city to re-site to friendly locations. This is not a vendetta against casinos, it’s a vendetta against casino locations near our homes.

In retrospect it might have been a good idea for the gaming applicants to talk to the neighborhoods before they invested in these sites. If they had searched the city for friendly sites years ago their facilities would be built by now.

I and many of my colleagues will never back down as long as casinos are planned for the central Delaware riverfront or any location where they are opposed by neighbors. Even if these are built we will continue to oppose them until they are shut down. Period. If you move them out of neighborhoods that oppose them they will be built and open in peace.

Morgan Jones
Fishtown resident
FAST (Fishtown Against Sugarhouse Takeover)