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

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Posted 9:24 PM by

Preaching to the wrong choir in Slotsylvania

State Sen. Jeffrey Piccola.To state Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, slot machine gambling preys on the poor, breeds destructive behavior and hurts local economies.

So, that's what the Republican from Dauphin County told leaders in the industry while delivering the keynote address today at the 4th annual Pennsylvania Gaming Congress & Mid-Atlantic Racing Forum in Harrisburg.

An outspoken critic of the state law legalizing slot machines in Pennsylvania, Piccola was chosen after Gaming Control Board Chairwoman Mary DiGiacomo Colins withdrew in protest to the event's sponsor, Spectrum Gaming Group of New Jersey.

Fred Gushin, CEO of Spectrum, told The Morning Call of Allentown last year that the control board's licensing of applicants was "an overtly political process instead of an exercise in regulatory control. It was a disaster in the making."

And Piccola hammered that point home to the casino operators and suppliers today, saying, "The process is inherently flawed if the staff that you are relying on for accurate information does not have direct access to the information that it so desperately needs."

He was referring to privately hired investigators who did the background check on now-indicted slots parlor owner Louis DeNaples, but never named him specifically.

The investigators believed DeNaples lied about his relationship with reputed mob boss Billy D'Elia, but couldn't prove it. They alerted the state police, who began investigating DeNaples, but did not tell the board. Nor did the board subpoena D'Elia before issuing a license to DeNaples on Dec. 21, 2006.

DeNaples maintains his innocence. "The facts are that the (bureau) and the board investigated Mr. DeNaples for nearly 2,000 hours before finding him suitable for a license," DeNaples spokesman Kevin Feeley told the Citizens Voice on Monday. "Now after the fact, it's become fashionable to use Mr. DeNaples as a scapegoat."

But Piccola told the crowd of about 100 today, "I'm here to tell you that a legislative response to this present controversy is inevitable. Many of you are going to pay the price if we don't do it over."

Among other proposed reforms, Piccola wants to put the state Attorney General's office in charge of licensing applicants so that office can utilize information in law enforcement hands.

To see a video of his speech in Windows Media Player, click here.


The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Authority decided two weeks ago to suspend loans made outside the state through the Federal Family Education Loan Program, but didn't announce it until this afternoon.

The agency will soon send out notices to colleges and universities that it will suspend in-state loans effective March 7, acting president and chief executive officer James Preston told lawmakers.

"Right now, it's not profitable for us at all to finance (FFELP) loans," Preston told a House committee during a hearing on the agency's budget. He cited the subprime mortgage mess and chaos in the bond market for making the loans too expensive.

Instead, the agency will steer prospective borrowers to banks that are still participating in the $50 billion program. PHEAA provides federally subsidized, low-cost student loans to about 500,000 Pennsylvania students annually.

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.