Gaming enforcement powers would move from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to the Attorney General under legislation approved by the House Gaming Oversight Committee. Supporters of the legislation say transferring the powers under the Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement (BIE) at the Control Board will eliminate any hint of conflict of interest.
“Our caucus members feel that it would result in a better system of checks and balances if the Attorney General had oversight over enforcement,” said Donna Pinkham, spokesperson for the House Republican Caucus. “This move takes the politics out of any enforcement decisions.”
Chairman of the Oversight Committee, Curt Schroder, R-Chester said if the investigatory and law enforcement body had been independent of the Gaming Control Board when the Gaming Act was passed in 2004, problems could have been avoided.
In part, Schroder’s cited recent testimony by Dauphin County First Assistant District Attorney Fran Chardo who sat on the grand jury case investigating allegations of mob ties to Mount Airy Casino operator Louis DeNaples. In his testimony, Chardo cited numerous examples where the BIE had been ordered by gaming board officials to change its investigatory reports, which enabled DeNaples to obtain a casino license, according to a statement issued by Schroder.
“With investigations and enforcement in the hands of the state’s chief law enforcement officer, Pennsylvania citizens can be assured that the proper checks and balances will be in place, and there will be a more transparent licensing and regulatory process,” Schroder said in a statement.
Under the legislation, the enforcement officers now with the BIE would keep their jobs but the administration of the office would move to the Attorney General.
The Committee also moved a bill, HB 391, that would prohibit state legislators and executive-level public employees from being appointed to the Control Board during their term of office and up to a year after they leave office.