Philly Casino Update: SugarHouse Opens, Crime Goes Up, Asians Wanted

Judas Lee

asians wantedIt's finally happened. In September, SugarHouse Casino opened its doors in the Fishtown area of Philadelphia to the dismay and continuing protests of community activists.

Last year, 14 demonstrators from Casino-Free Philadelphia were arrested for blocking access to the construction site. The group has continued to hold vigils up until the casino's opening day. Though it has now been open just three months, there have already been reports of violent casino-related crimes. In November, three women were robbed as they left the SugarHouse parking lot. One of them was treated at the hospital for injuries from being pistol-whipped in the head.During its anti-casino campaign, advocacy group Asian Americans United voiced concerns that a casino in Philly would follow the industry trend of aggressively marketing to Asians. That prediction has come true: SugarHouse has posted a job opening for an Asian Marketing Executive, responsible for attracting Asian players, keeping a database of customers, and serving as a liaison between Asian guests and employees. The position's language requirements are clearly tailored to target the ethnic groups who exist in substantial numbers in Philadelphia: residents in the nearby Chinatown, Koreans living in the far northeast, and Vietnamese in South Philly.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has already approved a license for a second casino, to be built on the waterfront in South Philadelphia. As with SugarHouse, the promise of jobs is overshadowing any consideration of the negative impacts to communities. We're only starting to see what a casino does to a city. Do we want more of the same?