October 26, 1990 |
Confused by a state law regulating raffles and other small games of chance, Chester County Treasurer Tracy Massey went searching for answers soon after she took office this year. "I called the District Attorney's Office and asked to speak to somebody about small games of chance. They put me on hold and the telephone rang right down here next to me," recalled Massey, whose office sells the $100 game licenses. Officials across the state have struggled to interpret the law and are reluctant to enforce it. The law, which took effect in 1989, legalized some of the raffles, lotteries, punchboard and pull-tab games that had become traditional but unlawful fund-raising tools for thousands of community, volunteer and religious organizations.
April 30, 2008
It wasn't too long ago that Gov. Rendell and friends claimed the state needed to legalize slots parlors in order to save the horse racing industry. Then somewhere along the line, some of the so-called racinos morphed into free-standing slots parlors. Now, some Harrisburg lawmakers are once again exploring the idea of legalizing full-blown casinos with blackjack, roulette, and other table games. At this rate, what happens in Las Vegas will soon be happening in Pennsylvania.
September 21, 2006
GREAT EDITORIAL about the state's effort to transfer Philadelphia's zoning authority to the unelected Gaming Control Board in Harrisburg ("Harrisburg zoning-control freaks," Sept. 12). Politicians in Harrisburg and Philadelphia believe city residents don't much object to their waterfront being turned into Atlantic City without a public debate, citizen input, zoning authority or a good plan. But many of us do object. Act 71, the gaming law, was passed in the middle of the night, right before the 2004 July Fourth recess, just like the pay raise.
January 13, 2009
IF THE BOOK relating the history of gaming in Pennsylvania ever gets written, it's hard to imagine the word "debacle" not in the title. But that book is a big "if," given the twists and turns of gaming in the state, which seems to open a sordid new chapter every few months. The latest: the revelation that Foxwoods chief honcho Michael Thomas was convicted on drug-dealing charges in 1988. He was still granted a gaming license in Pennsylvania despite the prohibition on felons' getting a license within 15 years of the end of their sentences.
September 7, 2008
How ironic that the lawmaker who played a key role in crafting Pennsylvania's flawed gambling law now wants to fix it. But then again, who better to close the gaping loopholes than retiring State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo (D., Phila.)? After all, he knows where the holes are located. It's not cynical to consider that Fumo's efforts now may have ulterior motives. Perhaps he wants to buff his image in preparation for the long federal corruption trial he faces starting tomorrow. Or maybe Fumo wants to get back at the cronies in the casino business whom he no longer counts among his friends.
January 15, 2009
For those keeping score at home, Pennsylvania now has two ex-cons who have been given coveted licenses to run slots parlors. One of the felons has since been accused of mob ties. Another was convicted of dealing drugs. Can Bugsy Siegel be far behind? Unfortunately, Gov. Rendell is too busy counting the tax dollars rolling in from slots to realize that the state's gambling venture is quickly becoming a laughingstock. Rendell pushed for, and state regulators approved, the gaming law in 2004 with little public input.
April 18, 2010
One of the many problems surrounding Pennsylvania's dubious venture into state-approved gambling is how all the legal disputes surrounding casinos get fast-tracked straight to the state Supreme Court. A proposal by State Rep. Curt Schroder (R., Chester), minority chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, seeks to undo that special treatment. If passed, legal disputes involving gaming would go through regular court channels, just like other cases. That's the way it should be. It is troubling that one industry is allowed to bypass the lower courts and have its legal disputes heard exclusively by the high court.
June 6, 2011
By Greg Fajt The state Attorney General's Office recently released a grand jury report that is highly critical of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, largely on the basis of events that occurred during the agency's earliest years of operation. The Inquirer has portrayed my comments on the report as dismissive of it and of its recommendations on how the agency and the state gaming law could be improved. That is simply not the case. The Gaming Control Board, which I chair, recognizes and respects the hard work of the state grand jury, which was investigating possible violations of the law during the establishment of the board and the issuance of gaming licenses.
January 14, 2008
I WAS FLATTERED by the admiration for my prose style that you expressed in your Jan. 10 editorial, so great that you wish me to provide your staff with writing lessons. Unfortunately, such tutelage would, I fear, be wasted. You need much more extensive help - full-scale journalism lessons. A course in logic wouldn't hurt, either. Yes, I wrote the gaming law that allows for the establishment of two casinos in Philadelphia. But contrary to your suggestion, during the recent legal battles, I have not changed positions nor am I pretending to oppose that law. I am trying to make sure that it and other laws of the commonwealth are followed correctly.
May 30, 2005
Without Gov. Rendell's efforts, legalized slots gambling wouldn't be coming to Pennsylvania at all. And without a "yes" vote from his appointees to the state's Gaming Control Board, no gambling operator will receive one of 14 lucrative licenses. Given such perceived clout, the governor must meet plenty of folks who hope to be his new best friend - none more so than those with designs on a gaming license or gambling-related interests. So Rendell needs to keep his distance from gambling executives.