Primer: Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board

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With Pennsylvania once again making a strong push for online gambling in 2017, the regulatory body that oversees the state’s already robust land-based gaming industry, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), warrants a further look.

Origins and Mission

The PGCB was founded in 2004, and at the time, was the first completely new agency created in Pennsylvania in 30 years. It is responsible for overseeing all slots and casino gambling in state and it administers the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act, the bill that led to its creation. The PGCB notably does not oversee state lottery or other games of chance at clubs and non-profits.

As per its official website, the PGCB’s states that its overriding mission is to “protect the interest of the public by ensuring the integrity of legalized gaming through the strict enforcement of the law and regulations, the licensing of qualified individuals and entities, and fulfilling the objectives of legalized gaming in the Commonwealth to deliver a significant source of revenue, assist the horse racing industry, provide broad economic opportunities and enhance tourism.”

Framework and Current Member Backgrounds

The PGCB is comprised of seven voting members, three of which are appointed by the Governor and four by the leadership of Pennsylvania General Assembly. Its current Executive Director, Kevin F. O’Toole, oversees what is currently a 300-person agency and has served in the position since June 2009. O’Toole brought plenty of gaming industry experience to the post, having served as the Executive Director of the Oneida Indian Nation Gaming Commission beginning in July 1997 and later being appointed as a commissioner in February 2007. He was also the Deputy Attorney General with the Division of Gaming Enforcement from 1981-1997. O’Toole is a past recipient of the Gaming Regulator of the Year-Americas, which he was awarded in 2012.

As with many other gaming regulatory agencies across the country, the PGCB’s commissioners boast a diverse array of backgrounds in the legal, financial and public service fields.

The PGCB’s current Chairman is David M. Barasch, who was appointed by Governor Tom Wolf to three-year term on October 8, 2015. Among his extensive resume, Barasch served as a Special Assistant to the Governor from 1990-93 and was the U.S Attorney for the middle district of Pennyslvania from 1993-2001. He was also the Executive Deputy Secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue from 2007-2010.

Richard G. Jewell is a current Commissioner who began serving a two-year term in June 2015. He is a former college president and attorney.

Sean Logan was just appointed to two-year term on Feb. 23, 2017. He is the former mayor of Monroeville, PA and notably served in the Pennsylvania State Senate for a decade, representing 45th district in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.

Anthony C. Moscato is in his fourth term with the PGCG after initially being appointed in February 2011. Within his long career, he served as a county commissioner for 16 years, was a Special Assistant to the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania and was also an investment banker.

William H. Ryan, Jr. is a former Chairman of the PGCB, having served in that role until October 8, 2015. He was originally appointed to the role on August 19, 20111 for a three-year term as Chairman and elected to a second three-year term on July 8, 2014. He also served 14 years in the office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General and was the acting Attorney General for four months from January-May 2011.

Dante Santoni, Jr. is another recent appointee, having been tabbed for a two-year term beginning on February 6, 2017. He has both a financial and political background, having served as a State Representative for the 126th legislative district representing Berks County from 1993-2012, as well as a Chairman of the Housing Gaming Oversight Committee from 2009-2012.

Ahmeenah Young was appointed for a three-year term on Oct. 7, 2016 after more than 20 years in management positions with the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority in Philadelphia, an organization in which she ascended to the roles of Chief Executive Officer and President.

Primary Duties and Departmental Breakdown

The PGCB does not receive any direct taxpayer funding. Rather, its largest funding mechanism is from slot machine revenues. The PGCB oversees and manages the state’s 14 licenses for slot machine operations, seven of which may be issued to existing horse tracks, five to stand-alone casinos (two of which must be located in Philadelphia, one of which must be in Pittsburgh, and two of which are at-large), and two to existing hotel resorts. Beginning in 2017, the PGCB will be authorized to issue a third resort license.

The agency is headquartered in Harrisburg, where it also operates a slot-machine testing center that was established September 2008. Each month, the state’s casinos give the PGCB a list of payouts for their machines. In turn, PGCB employees then test out corresponding machines at the center to measure the accuracy of those reports.

The PGCB has an extensive departmental array that comprehensively manages the state’s gaming industry, which brought in revenue exceeding $3.2 billion from slot machines and table games in the fiscal year 2015-16, with a combined tax revenue of approximately $1.4 billion. It is further divided into the following offices:

  • Office of Hearing and Appeals
  • Bureau of Licensing
  • Bureau of Gaming Operations
  • Bureau of Gaming Laboratories and Office of Information Technology
  • Office of Chief Counsel
  • Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement
  • Office of Enforcement Counsel
  • Bureau of Financial Management and Administration
  • Bureau of Casino Compliance
  • Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling – Each gambling facility in Pennsylvania must submit and have approved by this office a compulsive-and-problem-gambling plan for their clientele.

Whether the PGCB adds an office overseeing and regulation of online gaming in 2017 remains to be seen.