The Sugarhouse Casino, the first casino in Philadelphia, opened today on the shores of the Delaware River. This mega-casino received one of the five licenses awarded in December of 2006. While the Sugarhouse Casino is expected to bring in billions of dollars of gaming taxes, there is still controversy. Many residents and anti-gambling groups continue to protest the Sugarhouse Casino, and are moving forward with plans intended to reduce casino earnings.
The arguments against the Sugarhouse Casino
From the day HSP Gaming, L.P. was granted a gaming license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, residents have expressed concern. Groups ranging from the Philadelphia Neighborhood Alliance, the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association and Casino Free Philadelphia argued that the Sugarhouse Casino would create crime, noise, pollution and businesses that offer payday loans no faxing and other forms of credit. Casino Free Philadelphia organized a candlelight vigil at the opening of the Sugarhouse Casino to “voice sadness for people who organizers say are sure to gamble away their savings.”
The arguments for Sugarhouse Casino
Though there has been a strong lobby against the Sugarhouse Casino, most residents of Fishtown, where the casino is located, are happy to see the casino opened. Sugarhouse Casino has already paid $175,000 to the Special Services District, which is being used for arts, sports, schools and veterans’ affairs services. The casino has also hired over 800 full-time employees in an area hit hard by unemployment.
Future plans for the Sugarhouse Casino
Though the Sugarhouse Casino currently has 40 gaming tables and 1,600 slot machines, that is 400 less than originally planned. Future plans for the Sugarhouse Casino include a parking garage, luxury hotel and spa. Opponents of the casino vow to start campaigns aimed at reducing the number of customers and revenue coming in to the new area business. Though many are concerned about this new “dangerous neighbor,” the industrial-area casino may very well prove to be a badly needed economic stimulus.