“Get Out of Philadelphia”

Casino magnate heckled, booed and hissed at by Philadelphians

Make no mistake. When you make the blood of a Philadelphian boil, expect some vintage Philly spew in return.

Casino magnate Neil Bluhm knows first-hand.

He got the royal Philly treatment of boos, hisses, catcalls and shouts of "shame! shame!" as he when before the state Gaming Board on Wednesday, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Bluhm wants approval for design changes that would allow the SugarHouse casino on the waterfront to open up as early as a year from now in a temporary building. He needs the board's approval to do that.

Memo to Mr. Bluhm:  Philly loves to hate outsiders.

"Get out of Philadelphia and go back to Chicago!'' shouted one of the protesters, according to the report. About 100 protesters made the trip to Harrisburg. They represent a handful of neighborhood groups who do not like the Delaware River location, mostly because they think it will compromise public access to the waterfront.

The shouting went on as the Chicago businessman addressed the board. "Corruption! Pay to play! You get rich from the poor!"

When the Foxwoods guy, Brian Ford, went before the same board, it was enough to bring one Philly woman to tears.

Lai Har Cheung screamed for the board to deny the petitions of both casinos. She said her parents were gambling addicts and had mistreated the family.

"There are so many people with gambling problems,'' she sobbed.

But the issue for most protesters about Foxwoods is location, location, location.

The casino needs approval to move from it's original waterfront location to the heart of Center City in the old Strawbridge and Clothier store at 8th and Market.

Some neighbors feel like businesses a few blocks away in Chinatown will suffer and that a casino is just not the right fit, economically, philosophically, or for the sort of urban lifestyle protesters covet.

"A casino near Independence Hall?" one lady yelled. "The founding fathers will be turning over in their graves!''

Ford had to leave through a back door, according to the Daily News, after protesters refused to clear the aisles. 

Memo to Protesters: Get Over it!

Mayor Michael Nutter backs both plans for the same reasons. He says the new casinos will infuse hundreds of desperately needed jobs and money into the local economy. If Foxwoods and SugarHouse requests get approved by the Gaming Board, both could be open next year. SugarHouse would have a temporary casino open about a year from now. That would be folded into a final design that would be finished probably in 2012.

Walking to a waiting car, Bluhm told reporters he believes the majority of Philadelphians support his project and didn't want to criticize the protesters.

"People have the right to express themselves," Bluhm said. "I think they should try to do it in an orderly and courteous manner."

Memo to Mr. Bluhm:  Consider confrontation a sport in Philadelphia.

Contact Us