EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA CITIZENS AGAINST GAMBLING
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Casino opponents appeal decisions to give Foxwoods more time to open their Casino – Opponents file brief in PCGB’s Commonwealth Court appeal of decision ordering records be provided to casino opponents — Casino opponents not giving up on appeal of approval of Sugarhouse new plan of development
Monday, October 12, 2009, 7:30 AM (EST)
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HARRISBURG, PA — Eastern Pennsylvania Citizens Against Gambling (E.P.C.A.G.), appealed on Friday the decisions of the Pennsylvania Gambling Control Board and the City of Philadelphia, culminating in approval of Foxwood Casino’s petition for extension of time to open slots for business. The appeal, filed with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, seeks reversal of the approval, and seeks remedy for amendments to the Philadelphia Zoning Code that are claimed to be improper, including the amendment that places authority for approval of development in Commercial Entertainment Districts with the Philadelphia Planning Commission rather than the City Council and Mayor.
E.P.C.A.G. opposes infusion of gambling into Pennsylvania and has actively opposed the applications for facilities in Valley Forge, Bushkill Falls, and Philadelphia.
E.P.C.A.G. praises the recent actions and protests organized by Casino Free Philadelphia and all those who supported them. This city is packed with brave citizens who will proudly tell casino owners and politicians that casinos are harmful and unwanted.
The prospect of a casino in Philadelphia, next to neighborhood on neighborhood of citizens whose representatives have betrayed them is sickening," says E.P.C.A.G. spokesman Jim Schneller, "We even have a city ordinance that specifically addresses illegal loan practices and credit schemes, and on the other hand our present leaders and Harrisburg are allowing a select few to force gambling on as many victims as they can find, with children, future gamblers, an additional intended target group, and allowing loan practices that will create enormous additional economic harms. This is an insult to Pennsylvanians of unprecedented magnitude. Our leaders are literally condoning crime, denials of rights, and infliction of injury !
The appeal attacks the State’s and the City’s approval for numerous reasons, such as:
1. The City amended the zoning code to allow gambling facilities to circumvent the usual approval process, but this is in conflict with the city charter. This caused a lack of any real airing of the issues including the many harms and pitfalls of the plan. Anyone who attended the Planning Commission meetings witnessed this. E.P.C.A.G. asks the Supreme Court that the amendment be subject to a referendum or a flat out rescinding.
2. E.P.C.A.G. claims that Foxwoods had their chance and has not shown any good reason why they should be allowed additional time, having slyly pursued their 8th and Market location without filing any formal documentation with the Gaming Board, and taking up enormous amounts of City resources and manpower for that effort.
3. E.P.C.A.G. objects that all agency approval up to present falls below the threshold of fair and responsible governing that is especially required in situations that deeply affect communities, both adjacent and region wide. This includes:
4. The enormous social and governmental ills that are intended and expected to result from the approval of a casino.
5. The fact that the region is already gambling-saturated, and the fact that the slipshod design plan and surrounding acts are indicators of a permitting to Foxwoods of a cheap stand in urban Philadelphia, only so that they may quickly sponge remaining savings, habituate a maximum number of residents, and wave a victory flag in the process, so that prospective ‘gambling’ states might be impressed with gambling "popularity". College tuitions, nest eggs, religious contribution, and retirement savings are the first intended victims of this planned fleecing. E.P.C.A.G. claims that casinos work startlingly quickly against family values, and steal money intended for religion and community growth.
6. E.P.C.A.G. objects to serious impedence to traffic flow, inappropriate effects on the riverscape, and river residential and business community, and direct conflict with the intent of the Penn Praxis plan module and other proposals for the river. The obvious result of the Foxwoods plan is a special-interest island of spot zoned, harmful variances, that ignores riparian and port rights and ignores the surrounding neighborhoods’ historic, social, and aesthetic requirements. Also, the surrounding community and the region as a whole would suffer immeasurably from flow to and from sporting events.
7. E.P.C.A.G. requests investigation of officials who have received special ‘wins’ at designated machines at casinos, and related favors. E.P.C.A.G. claims that campaign contributions by the gambling concerns became illegal at the point that they crossed the line intended by the Gaming Act, and objects that no enforcement action is being taken in that regard.
8. EPCAG demands that the Gaming Act’s existing enforcement devices be complied
with: that the lists of officials including Municipal leaders who have a stake in gambling be meticulously published twice yearly as is required, and that applicants make the required yearly certifications that they have developed and implemented internal safeguards and policies intended to prevent violations and have conducted a good faith investigation that has not revealed any violations during the past year.
9. EPCAG demands that all casino employees be directed to sign certifications that they will not participate in any provision of prostitution or related crime.
Opposition to gambling in Pennsylvania is accelerating. Attendance at Pennsylvania casinos is down including at the Bethlehem Sands casino. While the Governor, many members of Assembly, and a formidable group of gambling concerns, have sought to top off their venture by inflicting casinos on Philadelphia and Valley Forge, they have met resistance from the virtuous and well-informed opposition, of which EPCAG is a part.
It has become clear that the three decade effort at acclimating the population to lotteries, casinos, and the pervasive "casino capitalism" (which played an important part in economic slide and the mortgage debacle) are a well planned and unconstitutional effort intended to cripple the American way including by molding the population into a debt-burdened remnant of it’s former self.
E.P.C.A.G. continues to decry the Supreme Court’s biased and unconstitutional decisions which repeatedly and openly favor the gambling concerns, notably, the unfathomable Supreme Court decision granting municipal Philadelphia the right to grant riparian rights, and the catch-22 of disallowing community groups’ rights to appeal without formally intervening, at the same time that the Gaming Control Board has sole authority over letting community groups gain intervenor status in the first place.
E.P.C.A.G. has filed a brief in the appeal of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board of a decision by the Office of Open Records directing the Gaming Board to produce records to E.P.C.A.G. that were earlier refused. Although the appeal appears to turn on whether the Gaming Board properly appealed the confidentiality issue, E.P.C.A.G. reminded all parties that confidentiality, under the Gaming Act, is not a universal or unqualified right, and that many, if not all, Valley Forge financial records, as well as Gaming Board correspondence regarding them, are not protected by the Gaming law in every instance, as has been claimed by Valley Forge, Greenwood Gaming, and the Board of Probation and Parole in the appeal.
E.P.C.A.G., subsequent to denial of a motion to intervene, has applied to file an amicus curiae brief in appeal of the P.G.C.B. decision to approve the category 3 application of Valley Forge Partners, pursued by owners of Philadelphia Park. EPCAG’s comprehensive petition for intervention was inexplicably denied by the Supreme Court recently. E.P.C.A.G. will appeal this issue to the United States Supreme Court. Schneller comments: "How can any community group exercise their rights to participate in appeals of Gaming Board decisions, when the Gaming Board has sole authority to deny intervention and is doing so brazenly without regard to the law ? This is authority no person or agency should ever have, because it is without any balancing and is authoritarian instead of democratic."
E.P.C.A.G. also pursues their appeal of the decisions of the City of Philadelphia approving the amended plan of development for Sugarhouse Casino, for reasons like those stated generally in points 1 to 9 and claiming, as in the Foxwoods appeal, that the amendment to the Philadelphia Zoning Code giving all authority over C.E.D. matters to the Planning Commission, is invalid because it is in conflict with the city Charter, is arbitrary and special interest legislation, and is unconstitutional. The Clerk of the Supreme Court has declared the appeal to be untimely so E.P.C.A.G. has submitted proof that they mailed the petition for review to the clerk within the legal time frame.
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