On August 12th, 2008, a Republican senator from the North Hills and a liberal Democrat from Philadelphia who disagreed about allowing slot machines have collaborated to introduce a proposal aimed at restoring confidence in how the state regulates casino facilities. The proposal would bar outside income by the state Gambling Control Board members, who received at least $145,000 yearly. It would give more information to the public on the casino applicants, modify the prohibition on campaign donations by casino gaming interest and require a 2/3 vote for Senate approval of board members.
Senate Majority Whip Jane Orie, a Republican from McCandless said that all of these conditions would create more confidence in Pennsylvania’s Gaming Act and Gambling Control Board. She added that confidence has been questioned recently and they must restore the integrity of the whole process. Orie opposed the approval of the casinos in 2004. Senator Vincent Fumo, her partner on the proposal was the main proponent of the law that allowed slot machines.
Orie said that they have some disagreement on the main public policy merits of approving slot machines, but they both agree that the experience of the past years compels them to make some modifications. Fumo is currently under federal indictment for allegedly defrauding the state Senate, a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia and a museum of $2 million. Fumo maintains his innocence on the charges. The legislators said that they plan to introduce a legislation so that it can be studied once the Senate returns for a session next month.
Fumo, after a thirty-year Senate career, is not running for re-election. Fumo will face trial next month. The Pennsylvania Gambling Board has been under criticism for giving a casino license to a Poconos casino owner later accused by the grand jury of a Dauphin Court of perjury and for not thoroughly checking the financial capability of Detroit businessman Don Barden before giving him the license for the Majestic Star Casino in Pittsburgh.
The Pittsburgh project has stalled because of financial problems and the board is considering approving the application of Chicago billionaire Neil Bluhm.