Pa. gaming agency bill passes House

Jessica M. Karmasek Feb. 18, 2011, 2:00pm


HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) -- The Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill that would move the state agency in charge of overlooking gaming background checks to the state's Attorney General's Office.

Rep. Curt Schroder, who chairs the House Gaming Oversight Committee, said the bill will help restore integrity to the state's gaming industry.

House Bill 262 would transfer responsibility for gambling-related investigations and casino regulatory enforcement to the Attorney General's Office from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Rep. Mike Vereb, R-Montgomery, originally proposed the legislation that would move the Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement. Vereb has said the Attorney General's Office is more equipped to handle such investigations, pointing to its ability to access criminal background information.

Schroder, R-Chester, said in a statement on Thursday that the legislation is long overdue and the proposed fix will go a long way toward preventing the kinds of problems that the board has experienced in the past.

"A Dauphin County grand jury investigating allegations of mob ties to Mount Airy Casino operator Louis DeNaples recommended removing the Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement from the Gaming Control Board," Schroder said.

"It was clear to the grand jury as it is clear to most of us here today that the investigator and the prosecutor cannot and should not be under the same roof as the judge."

Schroder said transferring enforcement to the Attorney General's Office will create the separation of powers that is "essential" to prevent corruption.

A second, related measure was approved by the House on Thursday. House Bill 391 restricts the appointment of state legislators and executive level public employees from serving on the gaming control board during their term of office and for 12 months after leaving office.

Schroder said the bill will help to ensure that appointments to the board are based on a person's ability as a regulator, not on their political connections.

The two reform bills will now go the Senate for consideration.

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