Timestamps recap of the September 12th Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) meeting held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
PA Gaming Control Board Meeting Timestamps (Introduction)
The following guide is intended as instructional material for those who wish to learn more about statewide gambling governance in the United States. It provides a full outline of the two-hour meeting conducted by the PGCB on September 12th, 2018.
Our readers should note that the following government business applies exclusively to Pennsylvania, and does not have jurisdictional standing in any other U.S. state or country. Nevertheless, this publicly-available information could serve as a general framework for understanding some of the issues that might come before an official gambling regulatory body in any geographical region where commercial casino activities are formally permitted.
PA Gaming Control Board Meeting (Timestamps – Sep 12, 2018)
VIDEO CREDIT: PGCB YouTube Channel
(0:00-11:30) <— Cue Video —>
(11:30) Intro, distinguished guests notification, Pledge of Allegiance
- Michael Smith representing Russell Redding, PA Department of Agriculture
- Jennifer Langdon representing Joe Torsella, PA Treasury
- Susan Layton representing Daniel Hassell, PA Department of Revenue
(12:38) PGCB employee recognition, 10 years of service
An awards presentation by PGCB Executive Director Kevin O’Toole and PGCB Human Resources specialist Joseph Bott recognizes casino compliance representative Christopher Mendola and forensic accountant Geraldine Long for their loyal and competent service to the PA Gaming Control Board.
(15:09) Announcement: PGCB held quasi-judicial deliberations one day prior to meeting
(15:23) iGaming petition hearings overview by PGCB Chairman David Barasch
(16:30) SugarHouse Pennsylvania iGaming Certificate Hearing
Rush Street Gaming VP of Regulatory Compliance & Legal Counsel Laura McAllister Cox provides a general summary of the company’s iGaming petition status leading up to the September 12th PA Gaming Control Board meeting.
(17:58) SugarHouse Casino GM Meet & Greet with PGCB
SugarHouse Casino General Manager Cheyrl Duhon makes debut appearance before the PA Gaming Control Board.
(20:30) SugarHouse iGaming Certificate Hearing Presentation
Rush Street Interactive President Richard Schwartz outlines RSI’s plans for regulated iGaming services in the Commonwealth. The presentation slides can be viewed by the public on the PGCB’s official website linked below.
Rush Street Interactive iGaming Petition Presentation (PGCB – Sep 12, 2018)
(29:25) PGCB Office of Enforcement Counsel (OEC) statement
Sarah Kolesar of the PGCB Office of Enforcement Counsel states that the OEC has no objections to the approval of SugarHouse Casino’s iGaming petition.
(31:50) SugarHouse Casino iGaming petition hearing concludes
(33:00) Hollywood Casino Pennsylvania iGaming Certificate Hearing
Adrian King (d.b.a. Ballard Spahr, LLP) – Legal Counsel, Hollywood Casino
Alex Hvizda – Director of Compliance, Hollywood Casino
John Worthington – VP of iGaming Operations, Penn Interactive Ventures
(34:37) Hollywood Casino iGaming Organization Overview
(36:55) John Worthington narrates Hollywood Casino iGaming presentation. The presentation slides can be viewed by the public on the PGCB’s official website linked below.
Hollywood Casino iGaming Petition Presentation (PGCB – Sep 12, 2018)
(42:27) PGCB Office of Enforcement Counsel (OEC) statement
David Tepper of the PGCB Office of Enforcement Counsel states that the OEC has no objections to the approval of Hollywood Casino’s iGaming petition.
(44:07) PGCB Commissioner Kathy Manderino inquires about Hollywood Casino’s online Responsible Gaming features
(46:41) Hollywood Casino iGaming petition hearing concludes
(46:44) PGCB approves past meeting minutes and transcripts
(47:07) PGCB Executive Director’s iGaming update (Qualified Gaming Entities)
PGCB Executive Director Kevin O’Toole reveals the criteria necessary for Qualified Gaming Entities (QGEs) to apply for one of the seven outstanding Pennsylvania iGaming certificates that are available for $4 million each.
– 3 online poker certificates
– 2 online slots certificates
– 2 online table games certificates
“A QGE is defined in the expanded gaming act as a ‘gaming entity licensed in any jurisdiction which has satisfied the requirements set forth in the Act,’ and any other criteria established by the Board, including financial and character suitability requirements.”
O’Toole announces that the process for determining which QGEs will be awarded the remaining iGaming certificates will include random drawings. The Executive Director then outlines four requirements that all Pennsylvania iGaming QGEs must fulfill in order to be considered:
- QGEs must submit their iGaming petitions between October 15-31, 2018
- The PGCB will determine which QGEs can participate, and publish the information on its website
- Once the QGEs have been identified, the Board will announce the blind random drawing date
- QGEs must submit iGaming applications within two months of winning a drawing
(52:47) The Board approves the QGE plan described by Executive Director O’Toole
(53:04) PGCB Human Resources Dir. of Administration Claire Yantis
The Board approves two new hires along with a revised payment plan adjustment increase of 2.5% for “executive and non-union management,” retroactive to July 1st, 2018.
(55:46) PGCB Chief Counsel Doug Sherman
The PGCB Chief Counsel reminds the public that approval of iGaming certificates does not authorize said licensees to commence operations. The Board approves both iGaming petitions presented earlier in the PA Gaming Control Board meeting by SugarHouse Casino and Hollywood Casino.
The Board also approves a two-month extension (until December 2018) for Penn National Gaming to secure a suitable location for its second Pennsylvania Category 4 Casino site near Reading. The company’s first “mini” casino location has been confirmed to be the first floor of the former Sears department store inside York Galleria Mall. It will be named Hollywood Casino York.
The Board approves a gaming application renewal request from a former employee of SugarHouse Casino.
(1:02:49) PGCB Deputy Chief Counsel Steve Cook
The Board approves Cook’s recommendations to deny a Gaming Employee Occupation Permit (GEOP) application for a potential gaming employee, along with the denial of removal of an individual from the Pennsylvania Casino Involuntary Exclusion list.
(1:06:43) Pennsylvania Casino Self-Exclusion
PGCB Deputy Chief Counsel Steve Cook describes the plight of “[x]” who — accompanied by her daughter in June 2013 — requested LIFETIME self-exclusion while on the premises of Hollywood Casino. However, “[x]” has since petitioned statewide regulators for removal from the list, citing adverse withdrawal effects from the prescription medication Abilify that caused her to form Compulsive and Problem Gambling tendencies during that time.
“[x]” testified in a hearing earlier this year that she no longer takes Abilify as of January 2018. However, the PA Office of Hearings and Appeals recommends that “[x]” remain on the list because she requested a LIFETIME self-exclusion.
Commissioner Manderino makes a motion to reject the recommendation from the Office of Hearings and Appeals, and to remove “[x]” from the LIFETIME voluntary self-exclusion list. This motion is seconded and unanimously adopted by the Board, which means that “[x]” may now re-enter Hollywood Casino and place real money wagers.
(1:10:00) PGCB Deputy Chief Counsel Steve Cook (continued)
The Board adopts a recommendation to deny the non-gaming employee registration of an individual who made “terroristic threats” while on the Rivers Casino property.
The Board adopts a recommendation to extend a GEOP suspension for an individual who was criminally charged with “attempted sexual assault of a minor.”
(1:13:27) PGCB Bureau of Licensing Director Susan Hensel
- Valley Forge “change of control” over to Boyd Gaming is approved
- Manufacturer’s license fee renewal reduction approved for Total Up Inc
- Conditional Video Gaming Terminal (VGT) operator licenses approved
- Conditional VGT establishment licenses approved
- Principal and key employee, along with gaming services licenses approved
- Temporary principal and key employee licenses approved
- Employee gaming permits and non-gaming registrations for 791 individuals approved
- Board denies several licenses, per Bureau of Licensing and OEC recommendations
- Withdrawal requests for employee licenses approved
- Gaming service provider registration approved for Empire Unistar Management
(1:23:05) PGCB Office of Enforcement Counsel – Cyrus Pitre
Pitre brings 17 issues before the Board for its consideration, including “one consent agreement, five revocations, three suspensions, and eight involuntary exclusions.”
(1:24:25) Consent Agreement ($50,000 fine): Downs Racing & PGCB OEC – John Crohe
“The next matter for the Board’s consideration is this Consent Agreement reached between Mohegan Sun Pocono and the Office of Enforcement Counsel regarding two instances of over-serving alcoholic beverages to patrons. First, on September 11th, 2017, a patron was served 12 alcoholic drinks in less than six hours while gaming at Spanish 21 tables at Mohegan Sun. After being served an alcoholic drink at 10:08pm, the guest was discovered by Mohegan Sun EVS [Environmental Services] staff being combative and vomiting in the Mohegan Sun restroom. Mohegan Sun security helped the guest into a wheelchair and took her to her hotel room.”
“Next, on October 28th, 2017, a patron was served 20 alcoholic drinks over the course of approximately 11 hours while on the gaming floor at Mohegan Sun as he gamed at various slot machines. The patron also received a drink from another patron, for a total of 21 alcoholic drinks. At one point, the patron fell to the floor while attempting to sit in a chair at the Breakers bar and was helped up by other patrons. Subsequently, the patron fell asleep at his slot machine and was awakened by another patron before being served his final drink by Mohegan Sun personnel. The patron was again found asleep at a slot machine at 1:52am by a slot attendant. Alcohol service was then cut off, and the patron was escorted to his hotel room by Mohegan Sun security.”
“The Office of Enforcement Counsel and Mohegan Sun respectfully request that this Board approve the Consent Agreement and stipulations of settlement that Mohegan Sun pay a civil penalty of $50,000 as well as a $2,500 administrative fee for costs incurred by the Board’s staff in connection with investigations into this matter.”
Downs Racing provides testimony of “policy changes” and “disciplinary actions” it has taken to prevent such instances from occurring in the future.
These range from: (a) formal Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP) training by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board of all staff members who have access to patrons on the gaming floor — including valet parking attendants, (b) limitation of beverage options to wagerers, (c) tracking and potential banishment of customers who have been “cut off” on multiple occasions, (d) surveillance training for security personnel, (e) coordination with front desk personnel to ensure “cut off” patrons cannot order alcoholic beverages through room service, and (f) “record of discussion” disciplinary writeups for employees who were involved in the two instances described by the PGCB OEC.
(1:34:16) Feasibility of precise surveillance of potential “problem drinkers”
During this portion of the meeting, PGCB Chairman David Barasch inquires whether on-premise Mohegan Sun personnel can realistically track the alcoholic beverage consumption levels of patrons in cases when a potential issue may not be obvious to even highly trained staff members.
Downs Racing communicates that there are certain challenges with policies that have been rolled out such as a “two drinks per hour” limit, because patrons tend to move around various areas of the casino gaming floor while finding creative ways to purchase more alcoholic drinks. Cocktail waitresses also rely on gratuity from customers who are unlikely to tip upon being notified that they are “cut off,” plus it can be nearly impossible for staff to “visibly” notice that a patron is “intoxicated” in some cases.
(1:39:40) Service Provider Liability/Customer Care
PGCB Commissioner Richard Jewell provides insight into his experiences as Grove City College president from 2003-2014, stating that the attendance of a licensed medical professional may be necessary in cases where an inebriated casino patron is escorted back to his/her room.
Commissioner Jewell suggests that a Pennsylvania casino’s responsibility to intoxicated patrons extends from the beginning of an incident to its conclusion, and does not end if a customer is escorted to his/her room after being removed from the gaming area. Downs Racing states that its policy no longer allows an inebriated customer to be left on-premise without supervision unless given medical clearance. However, testimony from Downs Racing suggests that — at least in some cases — security personnel (and not medical staff) make these determinations.
(1:42:42) PGCB approves $50,000 fine of Downs Racing (Consent Agreement)
(1:42:59) PGCB Office of Enforcement Counsel – Cyrus Pitre (continued)
(1:43:50) PGCB Office of Enforcement Counsel – Dustin Miller
(1:46:14) PGCB Office of Enforcement Counsel – Tamara Haken
(1:46:55) PGCB Office of Enforcement Counsel – Michael Roland
(1:47:37) PGCB Office of Enforcement Counsel – David Tepper
(1:48:15) PGCB Office of Enforcement Counsel – John Crohe
(1:48:56) PGCB Office of Enforcement Counsel – Benjamin Ferrell
(1:49:46) PGCB Office of Enforcement Counsel (Involuntary Exclusions)
(1:54:56) PGCB Office of Enforcement Counsel – Ashley Gabrielle
(1:58:05) Public Comment — Tom Connolly (Swatara Township Commissioner)
Swatara Township Commissioner Tom Connolly makes a public comment before the PGCB in regards to disbursement of gaming funds, also referred as “gaming grants,” in Dauphin County (Harrisburg area).
According to Connolly, his jurisdiction has become the victim of “retribution” tactics by political opponents, which has resulted in a 95% reduction in gaming fund disbursements (from $178,000-$300,000 to $13,000) by Dauphin County authorities to Swatara Township.
Connolly claims that this friction resulted in Swatara Township being denied $85,000 in funds for a police canine unit, with county officials opting instead to provide $13,000 for “dog food.” *
* This author lacks research-level familiarity with some of the events that Mr. Connolly outlines in his public comments during the September 2018 PA Gaming Control Board meeting. Please refer to the local coverage articles below for more background information.
East Shore Man Sent to Prison on Child Molestation Charges (PennLive – Oct 3, 2012)
Swatara Township Commissioner Says He’s Being Shut Out from Key Decisions (PennLive – Jan 9, 2014)
Dauphin County Candidate Claims Official Newsletter is Political (PennLive – Apr 21, 2015)
(2:04:17) PGCB reminds Connolly it does not have jurisdiction over how local gaming funds are disbursed
(2:05:10) Meeting adjournment
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