PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A statewide grand jury in a report released on Tuesday ripped the operation of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, saying that it “neglected or wholly ignored ... public policy objectives” and failed to protect the public from unlawful gaming practices.
The grand jury, sitting in Pittsburgh, also charged the board failed to maximize new gaming revenue that would flow to the state to support property relief.
“The board took the public policy objectives and essentially turned them on their head,” the grand jury said in a 105-page report.
Members of the board are appointed by the governor and by leaders of the Legislature.
Included in the grand jury’s findings were:
-- Political influence in the hiring of employees of the board. It cited one gaming board executive as saying he “felt all of the legislators were pushing to have someone hired.”
-- The board failed to recruit qualified staff for crucial functions.
-- Closed door meetings held by the board eroded trust in its decisions. State Law requires that official decisions and deliberations be held in public.
-- “Serious” questions about several large contracts awarded to Price WaterhouseCoopers, the accounting giant.
The report also dealt at length with the granting of a gaming license to Presque Isle Downs near Erie, and background checks on some of the company’s officials. Those checks are to determine the suitability of a company to hold a gaming license.
The report said that Gaming Board investigators were thwarted in attempting to interview people who could corroborate information about the company.
Reporting by David Warner