PGCB Chair Outlines Gaming Industry And Regulatory Oversight Maturity In PA
HARRISBURG, PA: Mary DiGiacomo Colins, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, today presented an update on the success and expanded regulatory oversight of legalized slots gaming in the Commonwealth.
The comments were made during Colins’ keynote address at the 5th Annual Pennsylvania Gaming Congress and Mid-Atlantic Racing Forum in Harrisburg.
“Since the opening of the first slots casino in November 2006, legalized slots gaming has generated $2.2 billion in revenues directly returned to the state,” said Colins. “These funds are being used to provide general property tax relief to all Pennsylvania homeowners, more than double those eligible rebates under the property tax and rent rebate program for seniors, reinvigorate the state’s horse racing industry, and provide thousands of new living wage jobs.”
Colins said that through the end of 2008, approximately 6,200 new jobs at the casinos have been created, and the casinos are clearly meeting the intent of the Act regarding diversity.
“During these rough times, some casinos have cut back in personnel,” Colins added, “but the good news is that those job reductions have been minimal.”
Colins also told the 250 in attendance that the coming year will be a significant in the expansion of Pennsylvania gaming with two new facilities opening in Pittsburgh and Bethlehem and two existing facilities, the Meadows Racetrack and Casino and Philadelphia Park Casino and Racetrack, slated to significantly expand. She said that after this expansion is complete, taxable gross terminal revenue is expected to rise by 43%. The amount of taxable gross terminal revenue generated by the seven casinos currently operating was $132.3 million in the last full month of January, 2009.
Colins noted that this expansion means the Gaming Control Board’s regulatory outreach needs to expand to meet the mandates it is to carry out.
“The public has high expectations in this area, and we are not in a position to fail,” Colins explained. “This becomes more difficult, however, when we must meet the demands placed on us for the opening and staffing of the new casinos under the shadow of a tight state budget.”
Colins also touched upon the PGCB’s efforts to balance its regulatory over sight to protect the citizens of Pennsylvania while at the same time ensuring that unnecessary roadblocks are not placed before the casinos in their efforts to continue the ramping up of revenues and jobs.
“While we will be tough when toughness is necessary, the gaming industry can expect the PGCB to provide reasonable, consistent and predictable enforcement as the gaming industry in Pennsylvania matures,” said Colins. “As regulators we must ask ourselves what we can be doing to help the licensee be compliant with our regulations and still allow the casino to operate at its highest capability.”
Colins gave examples of how the PGCB will be instituting new programs and adapting current regulatory methods to best meet the needs of the evolving slots industry. These included regular audits of the casinos’ internal controls, the processes involving vendor investigations and certifications, and the continued expansion of the online SLOTSlink system that enables swift and accurate transfer of applicant information resulting in shorter turnaround times and less cost in the licensing process.
Colins was appointed by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board by Governor Edward G. Rendell in November 2004 and later appointed Chairman in 2007. Her complete biography for is available on the Gaming Control Board’s web site at www.pgcb.state.pa.us under the About PGCB/Executive Staff tab. Organizations that seek speakers on topics related to legalized slots gaming can also make requests through the PGCB’s web site.
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Mary DiGiacomo Colins’ keynote address at the 5th Annual Pennsylvania Gaming Congress