Last week, Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell signed Senate Bill 862, legislation prohibiting public officials from owning any stake in slots, manufacturer and supplier licensees; and allowing casinos to continue operating in the event of a state budget stalemate.
"This is a good day for Pennsylvania because today I am signing into law bills that reform two of the most highly visible public processes in this state — the deliberations of the Legislature and the licensing of gaming facilities," Governor Rendell said. "The legislation reaffirms our shared commitment to the strictest oversight of this new industry — an industry that will employ thousands of people and that will support reductions in the property tax burden.
"Pennsylvania’s new gaming facilities must be operated in the most straightforward and ethical way possible. This new law removes any question of impropriety that the previous law may have created. It should also restore the public’s faith in our ability to oversee a new industry that will employ thousands of people and greatly ease the property tax burden for hundreds of thousands of homeowners."
Among other things, the new law:
”¡ Prohibits public officials from accepting gifts or discounts from gaming interests;
”¡ Clarifies the appropriate role of the Attorney General with respect to the institution of criminal proceedings under the act, as well as more clearly delineates the different enforcement roles of the board, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Attorney General;
”¡ Restricts the Gaming Control Board from hiring any person who has not been through a full background investigation;
”¡ Codifies the requirement for the Gaming Control Board to adopt a Code of Conduct, which will ensure that future boards continue to operate under a strict ethics code;
”¡ Requires the waiver of benefits by slot license applicants for Category 2 and 3 facilities that are proposed to be located in Keystone Opportunity and related zones;
”¡ Makes the use of suppliers optional; and
”¡ Requires the board to hold public input hearings in municipalities where facilities are to be located.