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

Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Posted 11:17 PM by

Slots of forces at play in Pa.

The race is on between the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board handing out slots parlor licenses and state legislators who want to rewrite the law before anyone gets a license.It's hard to express any surprise that Pennsylvania gambling regulators have given a green light to a slots parlor application for Philadelphia Park's horse racing track.

Work at the track's grandstand has been underway for months to make room on the top floors for 2,100 slot machines.

It started even before the Gaming Control Board, in a hearing Tuesday on the track's casino-license application, said it found nothing objectionable in the backgrounds of the track's ownership, or its financial and operational history, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

That's despite the fact that the track and slots parlor in Bensalem will be owned by Watche "Bob" Manoukian, a Lebanese businessman considered one of the wealthiest men in the United Kingdom.

I'm uncomfortable with the idea that a foreigner will be benefiting the most from Pennsylvanians pumping their life savings into machines.

I'm even more unfortable with the fact that Pennsylvanians with felony convictions from more than 15 years ago can legally own a slots parlor too.

Sen. Jane Orie, R-Allegheny, wants to change that.

At a hearing on proposed changes to the slots law, Orie said it should be strengthened to prohibit slots licenses from going to applicants with "certain" felony convictions.

I disagree with that idea too. It's too vague.

Although not all felons and felonies are the same, where should the line be drawn?

The issue is only apparent because Dunmore businessman and slots hopeful Louis DeNaples, who plans to turn the former Mount Airy Lodge in the Poconos into a casino, has a felony conviction dating back to 1978.

But after he gave more than $1 million between 2000 and 2005 to the state's top politicians - including Gov. Ed Rendell and Attorney General Tom Corbett - the slots law was written to grandfather him in.

While some state's ban felons from ever voting again - let alone contribute to political campaigns, Pennsylvania wipes their slate clean after just four years.

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