Two zoning bills that open the door for a casino to be located in the Gallery at 11th and Market streets were approved in City Council this morning as 25 protesters waved signs and chanted "Shame on you." The group interrupted the Council session, prompting one of Council President Anna Verna's sergeant at arms to threaten some with ejection. They also drew a rebuke from Verna.
"The vote has been cast and your shouting like that is not going to change the vote," Verna said sternly after the first bill was approved. "Now I ask you please, we’re trying to conduct business and I’d appreciate it..." Her voice trailed off as the chants continued. Verna again admonished the protesters for chanting after the second vote. "I would like you to please stop it. You’re not going to be changing anybody’s mind by doing what you’re doing."
It has been two months since Foxwoods investors announced they are considering moving their casino project from a state-approved location on the Delaware riverfront in South Philly to the Gallery. Foxwoods has not shown any plans for what a Center City casino might look like, drawing complaints from the protesters that the zoning legislation is moving too fast. Foxwoods will need state approval for a move and approval from the City Planning Commission on a plan of development in order to open at the Gallery.
The protesters, many from nearby Chinatown, waved signs that said "Cradle of liberty, not corridor of casinos" and "Mr. Mayor and City Council, be leaders, not pushers."