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Gambling Vault - New bill would stem gambling cash to Pa. campaigns

Gambling Vault -Harrisburg, Pa. - Legislation designed to thicken the walls of the Pennsylvania game between industry and government officials sailed through a Senate committee Tuesday, as lawmakers are taking seriously a legalization of table games in casinos.

The bill was approved unanimously by the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee after countless press conferences and legislative hearings on the gaps in state regulation of casino.

It is the first major reform of gambling legislation to pass a Senate committee since 2006, when state regulators approved 11 licenses for slot machine casino in Pennsylvania.

"I think it's a strong message, and I think we are on the way to restoring public confidence" in the regulation of casinos in the state, said Sen. Jane Orie, R-Allegheny, a leading critic of the status of head of gambling regulator, the Pennsylvania Board of Gaming Control.

A key priority in the bill is to restore the ban on cash contributions to political causes by executives of the gaming industry and investors.

In April, the Supreme Court overturned a State's five-year ban, saying a ban on contributions were far more in practice than is requested by the 2004 law.

On Tuesday, a government monitoring group, Common Cause Pennsylvania, said that included $ 4.4 million in political campaign contributions in Pennsylvania to individuals and groups in the gambling sector since 2001.

"This study helps to explain the game industry's winning streak in Pennsylvania," said Barry Kauffman, executive director of the group. "And to think that gambling interests go borrachera now have the opportunity."

The 51-page bill also toughens the game board of the "revolving door" policy, which requires higher and midlevel employees to wait two years, instead of just one, before working in the industry. The policy also could include attorneys, an issue that could gain control of the Supreme Court of the State, which reserves the regulation of lawyers by itself.

The bill has the support of the leaders of the Senate and could pass the chamber as soon as this month, but its prospects are uncertain in the House.

Currently, a bill to legalize table games is pending in the House, and another is expected to be introduced in the Senate within days, with some lawmakers talking about the income tax as a way to help fill the state depth of its deficit.

Pennsylvania has eight slot machine casinos currently operating and another Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, which is expected to open within weeks. -Gambling Vault

Casino owners have lobbied for the legalization of table games, saying it will create valuable jobs and establishments more competitive by expanding the industries of gambling in states along the borders of Pennsylvania.


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