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Friday, June 09, 2006
Posted 9:14 PM by

Pa. slots opponent: Take your time

State Rep. Paul Clymer wants a one-year moratorium on Pennsylvania granting any slots parlor licenses so that the law legalizing them can be fixed.

State Rep. Paul Clymer introduced a bill Wednesday that would impose a one-year moratoriun on any slots parlors licenses in Pennsylvania.State Rep. Paul Clymer, the sole Pennsylvania legislator to introduce a bill to repeal 2004's hastily-passed law legalizing slot machines, now wants the state Gaming Control Board to take its time.

In fact, the Republican from Bucks County introduced a bill, H.B. 2730, this week that would impose a one-year moratorium before any slots parlor licenses are issued. It's now in the House Committee on Tourism and Recreational Development for review.

That exactly where his one-page bill to repeal the slots law in its entirety, H.B. 2298, still sits after he introduced it on Dec. 6.

"Because the original bill was passed so quickly, there are many loopholes that could cause serious problems and that we are currently working to correct," Clymer wrote in a press release Wednesday.

By saying it was pased "quickly," Clymer is being polite. In reality, the 145-page slots bill was inserted into a two-paragraph bill requiring background checks for harness racing employees and then passed in the dead of night before holiday adjournment on July 2, 2004, without any public comment.

This after legislators took millions in campaign contributions and gifts from lobbyists for slots parlor hopefuls and other gambling interests since 2000.

"It would be a big mistake to construct and open a casino for business when we have not yet corrected the flawed legislation governing that business," Clymer wrote. "My legislation will provide time for the state legislature to approve and put in place key laws to better ensure that new slot parlors will have the proper oversight from law enforcement, will be located in places deemed appropriate by the host county and make certain the Gaming Control Board is bound by stricter ethics."

Five employees of the gaming board have been fired already, two of which were agents doing background checks on slots parlor hopefuls.

Clymer said he favors Senate Bill 862, which has several key elements to improve the slots law: including giving the state Attorney General's Office greater authority in directing investigations into problem casinos and prohibiting public officials from having any ownership or interest in gaming operations.

The measure has already been approved by the House, but is "unfortunately" still sitting in the Senate Rules Committee awaiting final passage from the General Assembly before going to the governor for consideration.

"It could take months to have this legislation become law, and without these key elements being addressed, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania should not be opening any casinos," Clymer wrote.

At least not until the taxpayers have a chance to find out who will benefit most from the slots parlors being jammed down their throats.

Senate Bill 862 would fix many of the problems caused by the late-night holiday passage of the law that legalized slot machines in 2004.But five months after the Gaming Control Board's deadline for applying for slot machines licenses has passed, many of the documents 22 applicants filed have not been made public.

That includes reports that would identify controlling shareholders in the slots parlors, their business debts, criminal histories, and dealings with community groups and gambling regulators in other states.

"We are close to having them ready, but we're not there yet," board spokesman Nick Hays told the Associated Press Friday.
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