Casino-Free Philadelphia To Protest In Chester Tomorrow

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A state trooper patrols the gaming floor at Harrah's in Chester. [File photo.]

Casino-Free Philadelphia has been trying for seven weeks to drum up attention about a protest the group plans to stage tomorrow at the Harrah's casino in Chester.  The group, calling the action "Beat the House," says it will "use a series of actions to expose the predatory practices used by the gambling trade."

What does that mean?  We don't know.  Casino-Free Philadelphia was cagey at first about the protest, saying for weeks only that it would occur at "an existing, operating casino in the region."  That really only left two choices -- Harrah's in Chester or Philadelphia Park in Bensalem.  This week, the group identified Harrah's as the protest location.  Casino-Free Philadelphia also started circulating a letter to Chester residents, trying to explain what the protest was about.  The group apparently struck out when trying to place the letter in a local newspaper there.

The latest in a series of media releases about the protest lists as participants some locals who object to the construction of two casinos in Philadelphia, SugarHouse in Fishtown and Foxwoods in Center City.  The list also includes anti-casino activists from Pittsburgh and Chicago.

Casino-Free Philadelphia was founded in June 2006, six months before the state Gaming Control Board approved two casino licenses in the city.  The group allied with neighborhood organizations that opposed the casino locations. Together, they used political leverage to help delay casino construction.  That leverage is on the wane since Mayor Nutter and City Council this year started supporting casino construction.

Casino-Free Philadelphia more recently has been picking and choosing its battles.  The group didn't even show up last month for City Council hearing where zoning measures for SugarHouse were approved.  Jethro Heiko, one of the group's founders, later said they didn't attend because nobody there would listen to them.

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