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Tom Ferrick Jr. | Maybe it was something I said

As it turns out, I am a terrible person. I am also an imbecile, a jackass, a hypocrite and a knave.

As it turns out, I am a terrible person.

I am also an imbecile, a jackass, a hypocrite and a knave.

And that's the PG-rated stuff. You should have heard the rest of it but, as a rule, we don't use those words in a family newspaper.

All of this comes because I had the temerity to state in a column last week that casinos would be a good thing for Philadelphia and that it makes sense to put them on the Delaware waterfront.

Here is one sample e-mail:

"Are you truly an idiot or just write like one for the paper? . . . Once again, big money and corrupt legislators have gotten their way. You make me sick."

Thank you, reader, for sharing your thoughts.

To be fair, I did get a number of messages from folks who said, in so many words: You are right.

But, the anguished cries from casino opponents did outnumber the atta-boys.

To summarize their remarks (Which isn't easy. They do run on): Casinos are evil. They will cause a crime wave. The city will get no economic gain from them. They will result in job losses. They will ruin adjacent neighborhoods. They were created as part of a corrupt deal among casino operators, legislators and Gov. Rendell. And the rights of the people - the everyday, hardworking citizens of Philadelphia - were trampled on in the process.

To which I reply, I disagree. But none of those arguments prompted me to write the piece I did.

What prompted me was the threat by some casino opponents to block construction of SugarHouse, the one casino that appears closest to a construction start.

The argument made by folks from Casino-Free Philadelphia is that because the process was corrupt, they have a moral right - perhaps a moral imperative - to break the law. To lay down in front of the bulldozers and stop construction.

Now, that part is nuts. And it is wrong.

Casino opponents make much of the "process" by which the law was passed and argue that it was flawed. Too many secret meetings. A midnight vote. So many special interests in control.

But that was in 2004. They have had three years to have their objections considered - and to have the decision reversed or changed.

They went to the courts and made their arguments. And the courts have ruled against them.

They also have had several years to get the casino law amended in Harrisburg to exclude Philadelphia, or forbid casinos within 1,500 feet of houses, or do anything they pleased -


they could round up the votes in the legislature. They have not gotten that done.

So now they say they have the right to block the casinos with their bodies? I think not.

The casinos - like them or hate them - were created by a law that was passed by the legislature, signed by the governor, and upheld by the courts.

It is the law of the land. And in this country we don't get to follow the laws we like and ignore the ones we don't. We live by the rule of law.

But it's easy to whack people whose hysteria has induced foolishness.

My other point was this: This is a city of nearly 1.5 million people. These are two casinos - big boxes where people can go to play slots.

I think a city of 1.5 million people can absorb the shock of two casinos.

I also think that the benefits of having those casinos outweigh the demerits. Overall, the casinos are good for the local economy. They will create jobs. They will help tourism. And, most important, the state share of the profits will go to reduce Philadelphia's wage tax to below 4 percent.

In sum, the city will be a better place because of these businesses. The pluses outweigh the minuses.

That's not to say there aren't minuses. Gambling can be an addiction, and this will make it easier for local addicts to get a fix. Traffic around them will be mucked up. There will be an increase in crime around the casinos. The casinos themselves are Grade B designs, in my view. I am not at all sure they picked the best locations on the waterfront for them.

I wish this city could draw a cleaner, less problematic business that would bring 7,000 to 12,000 new jobs and give us a major wage-tax cut in the bargain.

But we don't get to play the cards we wish for. We must play the cards we are dealt.

Overall, Philadelphia will benefit from the casinos. There, I said it again. So shoot me.

Note to casino opponents: That's a figure of speech.