Anti-casino demonstrators blocked construction entrance of new $355 million SugarHouse Casino

More than a dozen demonstrators were arrested Tuesday for blocking the entrance to the SugarHouse Casino construction site on the Delaware River waterfront north of downtown Philadelphia.

“We’ve shown Neil Bluhm and SugarHouse, and their friends in Harrisburg, that we’re prepared to do what we need to do in order to stop these casinos,” said David McKenna, a spokesman for Casino-Free Philadelphia, the community group that organized the protest.

After years of delays, SugarHouse has been cleared to break ground on October 8 on the $355 million, 22-acre resort, which will contain 1,700 slot machines initially. The ceremony will be attended by Mayor Michael Nutter, who supports the project for the jobs and tax revenues it will bring, and Chicago developer Neil Bluhm, the lead investor, along with local politicians and dignitaries and Gregory Fajt, chairman of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

“It’s not open to the public,” a spokeswoman for SugarHouse said.

The protests were. Demonstrators ranged in age from 20 to 70, according to local press reports, and came from all backgrounds and parts of the city. They argue that the social and economic costs of the casino will outweigh any potential benefits.