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

Monday, August 07, 2006
Posted 8:20 PM by

Slots to be desired in PGC disclosure

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is more interested in protecting the privacy of slots parlor applicants than in disclosing who stands to gain from receiving a license forever.If a state agency was embroiled in political scandal even before it was formed, it might be called to fully account publicly.

If a state agency disregarded the law establishing it by letting a license applicant ignore a state ban on campaign contributions, its legitimacy might be called into question.

If a state agency failed to fully release public documents BEFORE holding a series of public hearings statewide on a controversial issue - only to disclose redacted and incomplete records months later, it might wind up in court.

But the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board isn't most state agencies.

For one thing it's unclear whether it's covered by the state's Sunshine Law ans Open Records Act, which means board members can potentially make decisions affecting billions of dollars in secret.

And there may be no appeal.

Take for instance today's "release" of race-track applications for seven slots parlor licenses.

"Citizens throughout the Commonwealth should have access to information pertaining to applicants for slot machine licenses," Executive Director Anne LaCour Neeb said in a press release. "As we approach the next phase of the licensing process, the Gaming Control Board is committed to providing as much information as possible."

So long as anyone interested is willing to drive to Harrisburg and wade through the mess of papers at the board's office.

Lord knows that Internet thing isn't good for anything and nobody in the far corners of the state knows how to use a computer.

Since I won't be making the 120-mile trek there from Bucks County any time soon, I'll take the Associated Press' word that the trip isn't worth making.

"Much of what the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board released consisted of documents that the public companies involved with the slots applications have filed previously with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission. Many other original documents were heavily redacted or missing, such as the criminal histories of directors, owners and top managers involved in the applications.

"The documents also revealed little about the privately held companies involved in the applications, and do not always make it clear which investors will own what portion of a proposed slots parlor."

And that's entirely on purpose.

"The Board must balance its obligations under Act 71 with the public's right to know," Neeb said.

No, it doesn't.

One month away from deciding who gets a slots license forever in this state, the board should have posted everything it knew about the applicants online - with the only exceptions being for anything that would have made it criminally or civilly liable.

And there should have been a list made of what was left out/redacted as well as an explanation as to why.

The board has had these applications since Dec. 28 - a more than adequate amount of time to get all of that accomplished and still carry out its mission.

Is it any wonder now why legislators are in such a hurry to rewrite the board's rules BEFORE it decides who gets a license, that they might actually call their summer vacations short?


Although Pennsylvania Senate leaders Bob Jubelirer and David Brightbill insist the state's slots parlors should let gamblers smoke in violation of local bans, Atlantic City may soon be headed in the opposite direction.

New Jersey banned smoking in almost all public places in April, but the state excluded the shore gambling halls after casino executives railed against it.

A move is now on to include Atlantic City's casinos in New Jersey's smoking ban.N.J. Senate President Pro Tempore Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, wants to reverse that and is pushing Senate bill 1089, which would eliminate that exclusion and Gov. Jon Corzine has vowed to sign it if it makes his desk.

"I'm in favor of an overall smoking ban," Corzine told

Corzine also favors placing slot machines in the state's race tracks in order to compete with Pennsylvania and New York.

If that happens, most of the quarters to be pumped into Pennsylvania's machines will more than likely come from Pennsylvanians.

Labels: ,

 |  0 comments  |  |  RSS Feed | Add to Technorati Favorites

This Week's Rants | The Daily Rant Archives

Creative Commons License
The Daily Rant by Dave Ralis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.