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NO CASINOS IN THE HEART OF OUR CITY

Another Victory!

The Philadelphia Daily News is calling it the final nail in the coffin – and you’re the hammer!

Today, so-called superhero Steve Wynn with the proposed Foxwoods casino.

We’ve added another success to a long list of victories that have come from all the hard work, imagination and hope of anti-casino citizens of Philadelphia and beyond. This is your success!

It’s not clear what this means in the long term, but today it proves – once again – that there’s no such thing as a done deal. No matter what Rendell, Nutter and DiCicco want you to believe, we, the people, are can make change and be victorious.

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The Predatory Gaming Industry is Not Wanted in Philly

If there’s any question about how predatory and exploitive the gambling industry is toward Asian communities, take a look at some of Steve Wynn’s recent comments in an investor call he made last week about coming to Philadelphia:

  • The Vietnamese are part of the group he calls his “old friends” who like to “shoot craps and gamble”;
  • He loves his proximity to “these people” and the Philadelphia neighborhoods overall;
  • He called his Asian workforce in Macau “totally delicious.”

As he puts it, in his own words:
“I love the proximity to these people. I love the proximity to the Vietnamese neighborhood. And I’m gonna put in a beautiful Vietnamese restaurant for them.”

When it was announced that a casino would be built on the edge of Philadelphia Chinatown in September 2008, Asian Americans United and many of you rose to fight off one of the most powerful monied and politically-connected industries in the nation. In the process, we became politicized about the exploitive and predatory nature of the casino industry, an industry that uses everything within its power to boost its bottom line through exploiting vulnerable Asian communities, particularly our seniors, recent immigrants and young people. We’re not alone as targets – the industry loves college kids, neighbors and “every stripe of ethnic group” that loves to gamble, as Wynn puts it.

But Wynn’s comments and casino industry practices should make it clear, we’re in their sights.

On Wed. March 3rd, we went to Harrisburg to make sure Steve Wynn heard from Asian communities who aren’t playing to stereotypes and seeking to exploit our people for their profit. We went to Steve Wynn not because he’ll offer us food and ply us with “pretty colors” and noxious and bizarre labels. We went to Steve Wynn because these are our communities, these are our children and we’re standing up to say he’s not entitled to them.

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Case Dismissed for the Sugarhouse 14!

[photo of supporters marching for the Sugarhouse 14]

Fourteen of Philadelphia’s citizens, arrested in September for blocking the entrance to the SugarHouse construction site, were acquitted of all charges.

The judge dismissed the case. As a result, all Philadelphians should feel empowered to work for a more transparent, democratic and sustainable future, even when political forces are stacked against them.

Casinos don’t belong in neighborhoods where people live, play, work and go to school. Help us KEEP CASINOS OUT OF PHILLY!

Rally before the Trial of the Sugarhouse 14

[photo of Ellen Somekawa]

By Ellen Somekawa

Upside down. That’s how Eduardo Galeano puts it. We live in an upside-down world.

In this upside down, looking glass world, Galeano says, “The worst violators of nature and human rights never go to jail. They hold the keys. In the world as it is, the looking-glass world, the countries that guard the peace also make and sell the most weapons. The most prestigious banks launder the most drug money and harbor the most stolen cash. The most successful industries are the most poisonous…”

And in this upside down world, those who seek to force gambling addiction on our communities get to call themselves lawmakers or developers, they get to dine with the Governor. Heck, they get to be the Governor. While our friends and neighbors who seek defend their community against this form of highway robbery are said to be breaking the law. Upside down!

Our prisons are filled with addicts and drug dealers. In fact we can’t seem to build new prisons fast enough or spend enough of our state budget on incarcerating drug users. While the casino industry, a business that purposefully fosters addiction on a scale grander than any drug dealer could remotely imagine, is not only legal; it is pushed by our government and forced on our people. Upside down!

[photo of supporters marching for the Sugarhouse 14]

Richard Sprague, Steven Cozen, Neil Bluhm, Ron Rubin, Ed Snyder. These guys get to profit from a business that purposefully drives its customers into poverty. A business that uses science to figure out how to make its product more and more addictive – and they don’t have to hide under a rock? Upside down!

You’re going to call it economic development when you’re increasing poverty, bankrupting businesses and causing foreclosures? Upside down!

You’re going to call it entertainment when you’re causing homelessness, spousal abuse, and child neglect? Upside down!

In this upside down world, the casino interests with all of their millions to throw around Harrisburg are said to be exercising free speech. They aren’t buying influence, oh no. And people who peacefully sit in front of the Sugarhouse gate aren’t exercising their right to free speech. They’re disturbing the peace, causing mayhem and conspiracy? Upside down!

Casino economics nearly brought about the collapse of the world financial system. And now state governments across this nation can’t wait to quite literally place their bets for salvaging their budgets on casinos? They want to fund the business of government: educating our children, policing the streets, caring for our elderly, sheltering the homeless – they want to fund this business of government by increasing child hunger, boosting crime rates, impoverishing the elderly, and driving up foreclosures? Upside down!

They want to fund the public sector by impoverishing the people? Upside down!

Jesse, Lily, Rich, Jethro, Dan, Robin, Ramona, Denerale, George, Tom, Dawn, Andrea, Jacob, Hannah. You embody the best of who we hope to be: people of principle, courage, compassion, action. People of who live their values. People who choose to stand up for their communities even at great personal risk.

I return to Galeano who writes: “Every day the ruling system places our worst characteristics at center stage, condemning our best behind the backdrop. [But] The system of power is not in the least eternal. We may be badly made, but we’re not finished, and it’s the adventure of changing reality and changing ourselves that makes our blip in the history of the universe worthwhile.”

Today as we stand side by side with our friends in the courtroom – and in the coming days and months as we stand side by side in the trenches – we embrace this adventure of changing reality and changing ourselves.

Now it’s on to the courthouse!

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Media Coverage

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Why We Oppose Slots Parlors in Philadelphia

Casinos don’t belong close to homes!
Foxwoods and Sugarhouse Casinos would be less than 50 feet from people’s homes. No casino has ever been built this close to urban neighborhoods anywhere in the United States – with good reason. State law permits unlimited free alcohol service 24 hours a day at the casinos. Addiction, crime, and all the negative impacts associated with gambling (bankruptcies, divorces, and suicides) are worse the closer they are to homes and schools.

Casinos are bad for local businesses and when our businesses suffer our workers suffer too!
Casinos are selfish businesses – their goal is to keep people in their building as long as possible to keep them betting. That’s why they offer free buffets and drinks. As a result, they starve surrounding local restaurants and bars of business. In Atlantic City, the number of independent restaurants dropped from 48 to 16 just within a year after the casino opening. Within just four years of the casinos’ arrival, one-third of the city’s retail businesses had closed. Foxwoods is planning on making over $1 million/day; the money that our community members lose at the slots is money not being spent in local businesses.

Casinos profit from gambling addiction.
Gambling addiction is not just a by-product of casinos. Gambling addiction is a core part of casinos’ business: 27% to 55% of casino revenues come from problem or pathological gamblers. Gambling addiction hurts not only the addicts but their families as well. Studies show that 20–25% of spouses of gambling addicts are abused. Child abuse and neglect also go up in gambling addicts’ families. But we don’t need studies to show us this. Many of us have seen with our own eyes how gambling addiction destroys families.

Casinos unfairly target our community
Foxwoods in Connecticut actively markets to Asians and estimates that at least one-third of its 40,000 customers per day are Asian. Our City government should not support this targeting of our community. We are asking our City leaders to stop doing the bidding of an industry that profits by impoverishing its clientele and that thrives on pushing addiction. Casinos in Philadelphia serves the Foxwoods and Sugarhouse owners’ interests; it does not serve our public interest.

This is not a done deal. It is not too late to fight it.

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No Casino in the Heart of Our City Coalition

Over 50 organizations have joined a citywide Coalition that calls upon City and Civic Leaders to Stop the Predatory Casino Industry

from the Press Conference on February 18, 2009. By Ron Stanford

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