November 17th, 2009


Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board
Commonwealth Tower, Strawberry Square
303 Walnut Street, 5th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17101


Doug Harbach or Richard McGarvey (717) 346-8321

Former PGCB Chair Recognized For Her Support of Problem Gambling Programs And Regulations

HARRISBURG, PA: Former Chair of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, Mary DiGiacomo Colins, has received the “Special Recognition Award” from the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania. The award was made yesterday in Harrisburg during the statewide organization’s “Problem Gambling & the Law Conference.”

The Council presented the award in honor of Colins’ efforts in establishing responsible gambling regulations that are believed to be the most comprehensive ever created in the United States. Colins was an original Gaming Control Board member from 2004 to 2009, and Chair from August 2007 to May 2009.

"Not only are we grateful to Judge Colins for her support and steadfast advocacy efforts, but thousands of gamblers and their families are grateful as well," said Jim Pappas, Executive Director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania. "We will always be appreciative of her vision and dedication."

Also at the conference, Gaming Control Board Executive Director Kevin F. O’Toole provided the opening remarks, particularly highlighting several areas in which the PGCB has taken a leading role in assisting compulsive and problem gambling efforts.

“One of the reasons I accepted the challenge of coming to Pennsylvania to be the Executive Director of the PGCB was the strong commitment that the Board had shown toward compulsive and problem gambling issues,” said O’Toole.

He went on to say that due to the agency’s establishment of an Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling, board members and staff are cognizant of the issues related to problem and pathological gambling, particularly the effects when reviewing or approving:

  • Casino promotions,
  • Internal controls,
  • Casino operating procedures.

“As other emerging and mature jurisdictions look to the PGCB’s body of regulations dealing with problem gambling,” O’Toole said, “the Board will continue to review and research empirical evidence in an effort to enhance our role of state regulators in social responsibility.”

He went on to note that as table games legislation moves forward, he is encouraged to see that the General Assembly is taking a proactive approach to problem gambling.

Also leading a panel discussion on the topic of the Self Exclusion Program at the conference were two individuals from the PGCB’s staff, Elizabeth Lanza, Program Coordinator with the Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling, and John Sentell, Casino Compliance Supervisor at the Sands Casino Bethlehem. Lanza and Sentell both presented overviews of the Self Exclusion Program from their respective positions and insight into how the program operates from start to finish.

The voluntary Self Exclusion Program assists those who are problem gamblers and agree to be banned from entering and gambling at Pennsylvania casinos. Once a person is placed on the Self Exclusion list, gaming facilities in the Commonwealth must:

  • Refuse wagers from and deny any gaming privileges to a self excluded person.
  • Deny check cashing privileges, player club membership, complimentary goods and services, junket participation and other similar privileges and benefits to a self-excluded person.
  • Ensure that self excluded persons do not receive junket solicitations, targeted mailings, telemarketing promotions, player club materials or other promotional materials relating to gaming activities at its licensed facility.
  • Notify the Pennsylvania State Police of violations of the ban. A self excluded individual who violates the ban will be subject to arrest and charged with trespass.

An individual who wishes to be placed on the Self Exclusion List can obtain the application and instructions by visiting the Gaming Control Board web site,, and choosing the Compulsive and Problem Gambling link located under the Gaming menu. In addition, videos and information on the operation of the PGCB, problem gambling efforts and assistance, future meeting schedules and past meeting transcripts, and a link to request a speaker are among the many items available to the public on the web site.

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