PA Gaming Control Board Casino Opening Team Shares Its Successful Procedures With Asian And Kansas Gaming Regulators
BETHLEHEM: Delegations from the Government of Singapore and the State of Kansas are shadowing members of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s Casino Opening Team to learn more about how the agency assures that a new casino is prepared to open to the public.
The PGCB’s Casino Opening Team, currently on-site at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, ensures the slot machine licensee complies in all respects with the Gaming Act and the Board’s Regulations and Technical Standards prior to opening to the public. The Opening Team, which is comprised of PGCB staff from the Bureaus of Gaming Operations, Gaming Laboratory, Casino Compliance and Licensing, works closely with the Department of Revenue and Pennsylvania State Police at each opening.
The group from Singapore, officials of their Casino Regulatory Authority, is spending nine days with the Opening Team, May 14 to 22.
The Singapore team discovered, at an international gaming conference, that Pennsylvania’s casino opening process was recognized as a model for assuring that a facility was prepared to meet strict regulatory requirements and open to the public. It was at that event in Las Vegas that Singapore officials approached PGCB officials and asked if they could spend time at an upcoming opening in Pennsylvania and witness the work of the Casino Opening Team.
The officials from Kansas represent both the Lottery and Racing and Gaming Commission where implementation of a Central Control Computer System, like that used successfully in Pennsylvania to monitor and report slot machine revenue, is being set up. The Kansas contingent, who were also hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and GTECH, the operator of the Commonwealth’s Central Control Computer System, visited May 12 and 13.
Paul Resch, Director of Gaming Operations, for the PGCB says this type of reciprocation with other gaming jurisdictions was important in the early stages for Pennsylvania regulators who can now impart their knowledge to help others.
“Over the past several years, gaming regulators from across the country have provided us with a wealth of information to establish a strong regulatory framework and a successful gaming industry in Pennsylvania,” says Resch. “Now, we’re in a position to share what we’ve learned from opening and regulating our own casinos. We look forward to continuing to share best practices with our colleagues in other states and countries.”
The PGCB’s Casino Opening Team is preparing for two test sessions at the new Sands facility on May 18 and 20. Pending successful completion of these tests and approval by designated members of the Gaming Control Board, the Sands anticipates opening its doors to the public on May 22.
Ginggi Choy, Assistant Director for Inspection and Compliance of the Casino Regulatory Authority of Singapore, says reaching out to the PGCB as an expert regulator and observing how the Casino Opening Team does its work will be extremely beneficial in their work to open new casinos in that country.
"This learning experience will better equip the Casino Regulatory Authority in its preparations for the upcoming opening of two casinos in Singapore within the next 7 to 10 months,” Choy says. “With the PGCB's rich experience in the regulation of casinos, there is certainly much that we can learn from our Pennsylvania counterparts, and we look forward to forging strong ties between the casino regulators of Singapore and Pennsylvania.”
Benny Wong, Assistant Director of Gaming Technology in Singapore, says two PGCB officials who attended that international conference, former Chairman Mary Colins and Susan Hensel, Director of Licensing, were instrumental in facilitating the visit.
“With the impending opening of casinos by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation in both Pennsylvania and Singapore, the Casino Regulatory Authority is highly appreciative that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board extended this opportunity for us to witness the Bethlehem Sands casino opening and thereby secure a rich understanding of the significant role its agency plays in the process.”
Kansas is working toward opening its first gaming facility and is putting in place a structure that is similar to that in Pennsylvania. Joe Sellens, Enterprise Security Director for the Kansas Lottery, says they approached the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue to see if they could observe firsthand the many procedures necessary to conduct a casino opening and provide insight into best practices for opening a gaming venue.
“We sought the help of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board because they are well known throughout the industry as having developed a very comprehensive and streamlined process for opening gaming venues and assuring that every machine is functioning and reporting correctly,” says Sellens.
Stephen Martino, Executive Director of the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, says his agency is better prepared to open a casino because of this learning opportunity.
“We took away a wealth of knowledge from all of their expert staff that will undoubtedly save us from many of the pitfalls associated with the startup of gaming in our state,” Martino says. “We thank the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, Department of Revenue, and GTECH for their hospitality and look forward to strengthening our partnership in the years to come.”
The work at Sands Bethlehem is the tenth such process conducted by the PGCB Casino Opening Team. This includes two openings each at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and The Meadows Racetrack and Casino, both of which began operations in a temporary facility and then moved to larger permanent facilities, along with five initial openings in permanent facilities.
Among the many items included in the Casino Opening Team’s checklist of performance criteria are:
• review and approval of the casinos’ surveillance and security systems including all restricted areas of the casino, the gaming floor plan, and internal control procedures;
• in-depth observation of staff in the surveillance room, cashiers’ cage, main bank, count room, and accounting department prior to opening and during the test nights to ensure casino duties and responsibilities are being performed properly;
• interviewing key casino personnel and attending employee training to ensure that staff are qualified, competent and properly trained to perform their duties and responsibilities;
• inspection of emergency alarms, key management systems, and electronic access control systems;
• verifying that all slot machines are communicating with the Central Control Computer System;
• inspection and testing of all slot machines and associated equipment to ensure performance of the machines and gaming systems;
• ensuring that casino employees are properly licensed by the PGCB;
• assurance that a compulsive and problem gambling plan has been submitted to the Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling along with signage for obtaining compulsive and problem gambling treatment;
• assurance of a submission of a hiring plan to the Director of Diversity; and
• posting of required signage for compulsive and problem gambling, weapons, and smoking and nonsmoking areas.
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