Pennsylvania to probe casino license bidders

Dec 17, 2012 6:37 PM

“There will be no unknown (casino) ownership in Philadelphia,” say licensing officials, who added, “In this industry, as advanced as we are, there’s no hiding the ball here. The days of unknown ownership of the 1930s of Vegas just are gone.”

That was the warning issued by officials connected to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board who plan to apply extensive background checks and financial reviews to at least 54 people deemed to be “principals” in the gaming companies that are seeking the Philadelphia license.

“We’re really looking just to make sure that things are in actuality as things are presented by the applicant,” said R. Douglas Sherman, the Board’s chief counsel.

“We don’t want to see instances of corruption, which may have permeated gambling in the 1950s. We don’t want that in Pennsylvania,” he said.

So who will be investigated?

The Board’s Bureau of Licensing starts by identifying officers, lenders, people with ownership stakes, trusts that may be set up and other lending structures and agreements, according to Sherman.

Then, he said, the materials go to the Board’s Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement, which looks closely at financing and corporate structures, conducts background checks and looks for others who could exert influence on the applicant. The bureau looks for holes or gaps in financing and examines account ledgers and expenditures to see who is being paid.

Also among the factors considered, he said, were such things as character, honesty and integrity of the individuals. At times, interviews are conducted of friends, neighbors, prior employers and others.

“No applicant and no investigation is alike,” he said. “Therefore, we learn lessons from every investigation we conduct because each applicant is unique, therefore making us better regulators and investigators in gaming matters.”

Ray Poirier is the longtime executive editor at GamingToday.

Contact Ray at [email protected].

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