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Casino Shenanigans

While I favor the legalization of slots within The Commonwealth, commonly referred to Act 71, I don’t really appreciate the fact that Ed Rendell seems to be using the act to pay off political favors:

Boyd Gaming Corp and its partners submitted an application to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board late December 2005 to open a Slots Parlor and high-rise hotel on a 125 acre plot in Limerick, PA, just off the Sanatoga exit of Rte. 422 and adjacent to an outlet mall proposed by Chelsea Property Groups. A major partner to Boyd in this proposal is David Sweet, the former campaign manager for Gov. Rendell. The site for the proposed casino is not currently zoned for such a use.

Now, I don’t agree with the folks I linked to that Act 71 ought to be repealed. I think it needs some reform, but I do favor gambling being generally legal, so I think it’s a step in the right direction. The problem with the act is, there’s not enough protection to keep politicians like Governor Rendell from milking the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for their own benefit.

My proposal would be getting the gaming control board out of the business of approving casinos. They should be licensed the same way liquor establishments are, and whether they ought to be approved for zoning left up to the local communities. I’d like to see the GLCB merely implementing regulations and taxes on gambling establishments as authorized by the state legislature. Anything more is going to invite cronyism.

5 Responses to “Casino Shenanigans”

  1. Zeron says:

    There are a bunch of problems with casino’s in PA. None of which is based on “Gambling is wrong!”. Ed Rendell has stacked the deck for casinos that he has a financial/political interest. He gets to pick 3 out of the 7 members on the board, so in effect the location that he wants only has to get 1 out of 4 people convinced that it is the best location. Sounds like pretty good odds to me.

    I also don’t think that the casinos are going to have as much of an impact as I think they are planning. In my opinion they are oversaturating the market with too many slot parlors. We have 1 in Chester, 2 in Philadelphia, at least another one that is right outside of Philly. Along with so many different but close locations, we also are not using the funds from the casinos to help build up the communities but to build stadiums on the other side of the state.

    I actually think the casino in Chester is probably a good thing, I’m not sure if the saturation in the state is going to have the impact, since I see it based more on political kickbacks than studying the issues of casinos. Do we have a plan for addicted gamblers? What happens when the cities next to us build them? Atlantic City is going on the selling block because of the casino push in Philly, I wonder if that will happen to Philly when Camden gets the bright idea.

  2. Sebastian says:

    I don’t deny that there are problems with Act 71, and I think it shows Rendell’s true colors that he’s manipulated the system in his personal favor. I would like to see Act 71 reformed to remove the temptation to corruption. I suspect in a truly free market, slots would be pretty ubiquitous. Just about ever saloon in Montana has gaming, and I don’t see it turning the state into a den of immorality and decay.

    I don’t really like how gambling is working out in Pennsylvania, but I don’t really agree with the folks fighting it either, because I don’t appreciate their motives. My goal is to get the government out of doing anything more than taxing and licensing of gaming establishments, and for the licensing criteria to be objective, and without potential for political subterfuge like we’re seeing from Fast Eddie Rendell.

  3. alex says:

    As someone who is “fighting” it, let me make our motives clear: It is not because we have something against gambling since many of us do not. We are fighting it because of the way the legislation was passed in the first place (in the middle of the night, with no public debate). Did you get to vote on whether or not gambling should be legislated in PA? I know I didn’t and based on the amount of opposition, Rendell knew better than to leave it to the people to decide because then he and his cronies would get ZIP/NADA/NOTHING. Also, his pipedream that this will provide any kind of tax relief is just that, a pipedream. The numbers just don’t bear him out. The original purpose of this legislation was to “save” the horse racing industry. My question: Why are we saving a dying industry? If a business is meant to survive, won’t it without my tax dollars? Horse racing is not a neccesity! In case you missed it, Act 72 which was tied to property taxes and gambling was overwhelmingly rejected by the school districts. Act 1, it’s replacement, is a joke and of the 500+ school districts, nearly half have already filed for and received exemptions. You know what that means – property taxes are going UP and without a local referendum. In the meantime, the PGCB (appointed, not elected) get to decide which neighborhoods to destroy with traffic nightmares, drain on public services, etc. So you see, it’s not the gambling so much that is objected to but the manner in which this was done and the fact that the people’s voice is being silenced.

  4. Sebastian says:

    I agree that all the problems you pointed out are serious problems with ACT 72. So why not reform it to take politics out of the process, but still retain some form of legalized gambling?

  5. alex says:

    I’ll tell you why it can’t be reformed; too many pockets have been lined to get any meaningful reform. Do you really think the PGCB is going to give up their high salaries (for part-time work I might add)? Or that Gov. Rendell and his “friends” will give back campaign contributions? Or that the PA Supreme Court might actually uphold the State Constitution? If you believe any of that will happen, then it probably will snow in Hell.

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  1. Snowflakes in Hell » Act 71 - [...] is bad and immoral, at the root. I’m doing it, because I don’t appreciate Ed Rendell using legalized gambling …
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