It took four years to open a casino in Philadelphia, even though gaming halls just outside the city have been open for a while.
It’s a big day for Philadelphia gamblers who have been saving their quarters. After years of opposition and delays, Philadelphia’s first casino opened to the public along the Delaware River.
Music pours out of a trolley parked by the entrance to the casino. The Sugar Express – SugarHouse’s free trolley – will pick up and drop off potential gamblers at points around Center City starting next month.
Nearby a long line snakes around the entrance. These are people who have come to gamble and many came prepared for a long wait.
Alberta Wiggs of North Philadelphia is working her way through a book of word puzzles, and chatting with her friends. The group brought chairs, umbrellas, and lunch. Wiggs says they call themselves the “Casino Crew.” They’ve traveled together to many other casinos.
“Bally’s, Hilton Resorts, Showboat, Bethlehem Sands, and also we went in the one way out, Delaware Park Dover Downs, and Midway.”
Wiggs says she knows some opposed the casino opening.
“I think it’s nice for other people to have a job. Some people didn’t even have a job before this place opened. And I’m so happy for them.”
Robert Thorn came in from his house near Kensington and Allegheny early this morning. He knows opponents worry about the casino causing gambling addictions.
“They’re addicted already. They play the lottery and the scratch offs. They go to Atlantic City. To each his own. You gotta live and learn you know I think I learned if I get a little something I’m running with it. I don’t stay no more until the gravy train runs outta gravy. I don’t do that no more.”
Activists from Casino-Free Philadelphia say they’re not giving up. They plan to launch a campaign to shut down the casino..and lead dozens of Casino Town Watch patrols during SugarHouse’s first year.