"What's black and white and read all over?"

Monday, August 14, 2006
Posted 10:41 PM by

Slots of secrets kept by Pa. regulators

If the Gaming Control Board won't spell out who stands to gain from owning a slot machine parlor and by how much, how are Pennsylvanians to trust the entire process of licensing them?Pennsylvania's Gaming Control Board refuses to say what share each potential owner of the state's 14 slot machine parlors stands to gain if granted a license.

And in a bizarre move, the regulators claim the 2004 state law that legalized slots gambling prohibits them from releasing that information, which could prove key in determining whether the public is being hosed.

"The statute has a fairly strict confidentiality requirement in it and the board is following the statute," gaming board spokesman Nick Hays told the Associated Press.

But Christopher Craig, a lawyer for state Senator Vincent Fumo, D-Philadelphia, said he doesn't understand the board's reluctance to spell out how big a stake new slot parlor owners will have.

"It has to be really related to some kind of business plan or trade secret that would otherwise be damaging if it were disclosed publicly," Craig said "I wouldn't know how ... by making that public harms the business model and plans of the applicant."

This isn't the only key piece of information the PGCB is playing hide and seek with either.

The agency refuses to post application information on the Internet and will only release it to the public if they come into its Harrisburg office.

Nevertheless, fear of the unknown has not stopped Pennsylvania's politicians from spending the cash their governments plan to gain from hosting casinos.

Gettysburg Council voted 5-4 tonight to accept $1 million a year in budgetary help for the borough, whose budget is currently $4 million annually, if Crossroads Gaming Resort and Spa LP is granted a slots license.

I don't think they quite get the notion that this is vulture culture. I'm willing to bet a decade from now $1 million a year will not even come close to pay for the added government services needed to deal with the effects of gambling - everything from increased police and addictions counseling, to urban blight.

They need only look at Atlantic City for a glimpse of their future.
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