Protests at test run of Philly's 1st casino

FISHTOWN - September 20, 2010 Two test runs have been scheduled at Sugar House with the first already underway Monday night. The second will be held Wednesday and the grand opening to the public should occur this Thursday.

Sugar House General Manager Wendy Hamilton says that's the schedule as of now.

"It does not look at this point that anything is in our way. We test tonight, we test again on Wednesday and 99% sure these doors are opening on Thursday."

Melonease Shaw, who lives in Fishtown, says she has supporting the casino plan from the beginning and says this project is already paying dividends.

"And I know as of last week there were already 900 employees employed and so that's pretty phenomenal in this economy."

But Ms. Shaw's assessment is not shared by all of her neighbors. Approximately three dozen protesters gathered to hold a vigil outside of Sugar House to condemn the social ills, they say, follow casinos into the communities where they're built.

"They'll increase the bankruptcies of Philadelphia by over 6,200 and it will lose 1,600 jobs every year. And with numbers like that we don't understand why someone would play the odds," said Zachary Hershman.

But gaming officials say the positives of this casino's arrival will far out-weigh any potential negatives and they're happy see this project come to fruition.

"It's been a 4 year process, almost 4 years, but we always knew the project here on the Delaware River would really be a big addition both aesthetically and economically for the area," said Kevin O'Toole of the Pennsylvania Gaming and Control Board.

The profits from the test runs will be distributed among four local charities including the Abramson Cancer Center, the Fraternal Order of Police Survivor's Fund, the Greater Philadelphia Traditions Fund and the Philadelphia Veteran's Multi-Service and Education Center.

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