Inquirer Editorial: Being robbed a bad deal for casino patrons

CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
Posted: September 28, 2012

As the SugarHouse Casino slogan says, Philly loves a winner - and so, it seems, do crooks.

In a criminal gambit that began troubling the waterfront casino within months of its debut, police say thieves once again are targeting gamblers after they head home with their winnings.

Philadelphia detectives are on the lookout for a gang that followed at least five SugarHouse patrons who were robbed after being threatened with a Taser stun gun.

The robberies so far have netted around $44,500. Police say four of the victims, including a pregnant woman, wound up in the hospital with injuries after being roughed up and shot with the Taser.

It's certainly no surprise that the casino's arrival has spawned such brazen criminal conduct as collateral damage. That thugs would prey on patrons was as easily predictable as an increase in problem gambling.

In targeting Asian casino patrons, the robberies also highlight the additional risks to groups viewed by predators as particularly susceptible to gambling. Indeed, the opposition by Asian activists to a downtown casino stemmed, in part, from an understanding of that reality.

While the hope is that a police appeal for the public's help will quickly lead to an arrest, the robberies are a reminder that the city will only see such problems increase with a second casino.

The demise of plans to build a Foxwoods Casino provided an opportunity to give the city's second casino license to another town - or to scrap it altogether, given the region's increasingly saturated casino market. That may yet happen, although state regulators are seeking bids by mid-November for a new city casino site.

New Jerseyans have the right idea, telling pollsters by a solid majority they don't want casino gambling to expand beyond Atlantic City. Mayor Nutter and other supporters of a second Philadelphia casino see it as a win on the jobs front. But the inevitable social problems and crime could leave casino patrons feeling like losers.

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