Representative Sam Smith
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Date: January 6, 2010 Contact: Stephen Miskin (717) 705-1852
E-Mail: [email protected]
Gaming Expansion Comes Up Short on Reform,
Process Lacked Public Input, House Republican Leader Says
GOP-supported reforms ignored during negotiation process
HARRISBURG – House Republican Leader Sam Smith (R-Jefferson County) issued the following reaction to today’s passage of legislation providing for table games.
"Over the last two sessions, House Republicans have shown the need for clarifying and fixing the five-year-old gaming law. While the governor, attorney general, auditor general, district attorneys, law enforcement and numerous editorial writers have supported our efforts, unfortunately, our call for reform has been largely ignored. Until the recent push to expand gaming in the state, the hearings, meetings and evidence uncovered regarding the problems with the gaming law have been ignored," Smith said. "The gaming expansion bill has been crafted and hidden from public view just as the original, flawed bill. It’s not how the people’s business should be done.
"This bill was crafted by the House Democrats and the Senate, who purposely excluded House Republican participation and I don’t fully understand why. The House GOP stood for crafting a responsible and respectable gaming law. That was and remains our top priority… and it should have been everyone’s.
"While the legislation approved today and sent to the governor’s desk contains several of our reform proposals, such as prohibiting campaign contributions from gaming interests, prohibiting former employees of the Gaming Board from working at casinos, and strengthening compulsive gambling provisions, our caucus continues to have concerns about this expansion.
"One of the most important and basic reforms supported by the governor and others would have had law enforcement oversee the background and enforcement functions. For some unknown reason, the Senate and House Democrats refused to even consider this commonsense fix.
"Back in 2004, I voted against the original slots law because of the negative legacy I believe this industry could leave on the Commonwealth. Five years later, the licensing and regulatory process has been riddled with problems and we have not seen the decreases in property taxes that Pennsylvanians were promised.
"Under these circumstances I do not believe it is sound judgment to add another facet of gaming."
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