My pal Isaiah Thompson of City Paper makes the point today that while the anti-casino movement in Philadelphia has lost every battle it has fought, it's also, to some extent, winning the war: There are still zero casinos in the city of Philadelphia. And as construction on Sugarhouse looms closer and closer, Casino-Free is gearing up to keep things that way:
Casino-Free will begin a new phase in its opposition to casinos next week, when it launches a new campaign of "direct action" — or civil disobedience — on the SugarHouse construction site. Nearly a hundred members have signed a petition pledging their willingness to take "nonviolent direct action" against the casinos. In a recent interview on Radio Times, Casino-Free attorney Paul Boni affirmed that the group would lie in front of bulldozers if it comes down to it.
This fight has implications for the city, of course, but also for the City -- the government. Last year's five-year plan projected some $82 million in casino-related revenues. That's not chump change. Now, casino opponents (and PICA) argue that revenues like that would be offset by various social costs (like residents going broke). So to some extent, these funds were already in question. But it's worth pointing out that, along with the future of the economy and employee benefit costs, the costs/benefits/existence of casinos in Philadelphia remains uncertain. And, whether they're right or wrong, people lying down in front of bulldozers rarely does anything to improve the certainty of a situation.