Schroder Says Now is No Time for Gaming Expansion in PA

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April 23, 2009

Schroder Says Now is No Time For Gaming Expansion in Pennsylvania
Lawmaker cites flaws in state gaming laws, says expansion won’t end with video poker

HARRISBURG – During the first in a series of hearings by the House Gaming Oversight Committee on Gov. Ed Rendell’s plan to bring video poker to the Commonwealth, Rep. Curt Schroder (R-East Brandywine), the Republican chairman of the committee, called the hearings premature.

"We should not be holding hearings on video poker or any other kind of gambling expansion before we have existing gambling under control and well-regulated," said Schroder. He cited a number of problems with the background investigation process as well as instances whereby gaming licenses have been granted to convicted felons and a bankrupt individual.

"I firmly believe that this committee should be holding hearings to correct the numerous deficiencies of the Gaming Control Board and the flawed legislation that created it," said Schroder. "Governor Rendell said again today that he "100 percent supports" recommendations by a Dauphin County grand jury and District Attorney Ed Marsico that would fix the problems. That’s what this committee should be working on."

Schroder said Rendell is using the lure of tuition breaks for college students as his means of getting video poker in the Commonwealth, much the same way he used property tax relief to get gambling into Pennsylvania in the first place.

Schroder told the committee that video poker is the most addictive form of gambling and the governor’s plan would allow these machines in 14,000 locations throughout the state. Schroder said this is akin to having mini-casinos in every neighborhood.

Schroder said he has been told by representatives of a number of casinos that if the video poker law passes, they will sue to get back the $50 million they gave the state in license fees. He said if that happens, it will eat up any hope of meaningful property tax relief.

Schroder indicated that the governor’s real motivation may be table games. He presented a scenario whereby video poker passes, casinos sue to have their license investment returned and the compromise ends up being that casinos get table games.

"While this effort is couched in terms of tuition assistance, the tuition assistance is only there as window dressing to make it palatable and provide political cover, just as the unfulfilled promise of major property tax relief was used to pass slots," he said.

***Editor’s Note: To see Schroder’s remarks online, go to
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