Anti-casino activists are hoping to score a royal flush with their latest campaign launched this week.
On Wednesday, Casino-Free Philadelphia kicked off its campaign against construction of casinos in the city - called Operation Hidden Costs - with a visit to the Governor's office at Walnut and Broad streets.
The group claims that the social costs of gambling are currently not taken into account in analysis of the costs and benefits of casinos.
However, Gov. Ed Rendell's press secretary Charles Ardo said there is "no evidence to support these allegations."
Lily Cavanagh, spokeswoman for Casino Free Philadelphia, said the group believes the figures presented by Rendell are "irresponsible" because the cost-benefit analysis was not done properly.
According to the group's calculations, bringing a casino to Philadelphia would result in a net negative financial outcome for the city
While jobs will be created, they say more jobs will be lost because the casinos will "cannibalize local businesses."
According to Cavanagh, law enforcement costs will go up because casinos will also bring an increase in white collar crime, homicides and muggings.
"There are [also] things that you can't put a price tag on," she said, referring to the suicides and divorces that gambling problems may cause.
On Wednesday, the group presented several objects with symbolic value - a ruler, calculator, magnifying glass and "homework assignment" - to Rendell's Philadelphia office director Joseph Certaine.
The "homework assignment" consisted of questions on cost-benefit analysis and the social costs of gambling, concluding with an invitation to debate the group.
Certaine accepted the calculator and "homework assignment" but rejected the ruler and magnifying glass, Cavanagh said.
Ardo said the objects were rejected because Certaine had "no need for them," and that the statistics presented by the group are "designed to alarm."
He added that the majority of people who visit the casino will "gamble responsibly," and that treatment is available to those who do not.
Casino-Free Philadelphia plans to hold several more events designed to attract attention to casino-related issues through unorthodox ways.
Next month, people suffering from gambling disorders will testify publicly and the group will hold a child-friendly Easter Egg hunt activity.
Uri Monson, executive director of the Philadelphia Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, said that after examining the city's budget for the fiscal years of 2008 through 2012, his organization found that only the revenues and not the costs of bringing the casinos to the city were taken into account.
He said his organization cannot predict what the costs will be, adding that it is a risk to ignore casino costs in the city's budget.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.