Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board
|Headquarters||303 Walnut Street, 2nd Floor, Strawberry Square, Harrisburg, PA 17101|
|Agency executives||William H. Ryan, Jr., Chairman
Kevin F. O'Toole, Executive Director
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is a governmental agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, founded in 2004 as the state licensing and regulatory agency responsible for overseeing slot machines and casino gambling in the state.
The first completely new agency created in Pennsylvania in over 30 years, the PGCB administers the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act, also known as "Act 71", and its regulations to assure public trust and confidence in the credibility and integrity of casinos in Pennsylvania. The Board also acts to fulfill "the objectives of limited gaming in the Commonwealth to deliver a significant source of revenue, assist the horse racing industry, provide broad economic opportunities and enhance tourism."
The PGCB does not oversee games of chance in the Commonwealth such as the Pennsylvania Lottery or other permitted games of chance at clubs and non-profit organizations.
The board consists of seven voting members, three of which are appointed by the Governor of Pennsylvania and four of which are appointed by the leadership of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. By statute, the State Treasurer, Secretary of Revenue, and Secretary of Agriculture are non-voting ex officio members.
Among other duties, the Board operates a slot-machine testing center. Located above the Board's Harrisburg office, the center was established in September 2008. Each month, Pennsylvania casinos and slot-machine operators give the Board a list of the "payouts" on each of their machines: how often and how much they pay per average play. Board employees at the center test various models of slot machine to measure their payouts. This information is not passed on to the public.
The PGCB also set up an Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling devoted to "understanding and alleviating the devastating effects of pathological gambling." Under PGCB’s regulations, gambling facilities in the state must submit and have approved a compulsive-and-problem-gambling plan before starting gambling operations. These plans must include items such as employee training when dealing with compulsive gamblers, self-exclusion plans and how to handle people who want to be on Pennsylvania’s self-exclusion list, the responsibility of patrons with respect to responsible gambling, the availability of printed material and signage throughout the casino, and procedures to prevent intoxicated and underage gambling.
Funding and support
The PGCB's funding is from several sources, none directly from taxpayers. The largest funding mechanism is from slot machine revenues, but only after deduction of appropriate taxes that are transferred to a number of recipients: - the local governments that host a facility - the horse racing industry - economic development and tourism efforts, and - a State Gaming Fund which primarily provides revenues to school districts which, in turn, utilize toward the lowering of local property taxes.[original research?]
In addition, the PGCB bills applicants for investigative costs associated with securing any type of license and manufacturers of slot machines and related goods who seek approval of equipment to be utilized in casinos.[original research?]
The Gaming Act also requires a role in gaming oversight by the State Police, Department of Revenue and Attorney General, whose costs are also reimbursed from slot machine revenues.[original research?]
The board is authorized to issue up to 14 licenses for slot machine operations. Seven licenses may be issued to existing horse race tracks, or racinos, five licenses may be issued to stand-alone casinos, and two licenses may be issued to existing hotel resorts. In 2017, the board will be authorized to award a third resort license. All casinos can have up to 5,000 machines, except the resort licensees, which can have up to 600. The Act also mandated that two of the five stand-alone casinos be located in Philadelphia, one in Pittsburgh, and the remaining two at-large. As of May 2010, 13 of the licenses have been awarded. One license for a racino has not been awarded. In addition, casinos in Pennsylvania began operating table games in July 2010. Stand-alone and racinos may have up to 250 table games, while resort casinos are limited to a maximum of 50 table games. Table games legislation increased the number of slots that resort casinos may have, from 500 to 600 machines.
On December 20, 2006, the board voted to grant six permanent casino licenses for existing horse racing facilities. The board previously voted to grant these locations temporary licenses on September 27, 2006. The licensed facilities were:
- Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack in Chester (previously Harrah's Chester)
- Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre
- Parx Casino and Racing in Bensalem (Philadelphia area) (previously Philadelphia Park)
- Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pennsylvania (Harrisburg area)
- Presque Isle Downs and Casino in Erie
- The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington (Pittsburgh area)
One racino license has yet to be awarded. A proposed racino, Lawrence Downs, has proposed a facility in Mahoning Township, near the Ohio border. This is on the same site as a previous applicant, Valley View Downs, which failed to obtain the license.
On the same day, the board voted to grant five permanent casino licenses for stand-alone casinos. The licensed facilities are:
- Mount Airy Casino Resort in Stroudsburg, which opened on October 22, 2007
- Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem in the Lehigh Valley, which opened on May 22, 2009
- Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, which opened on August 4, 2009
- SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, which opened on September 23, 2010
- Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia [never built, license was revoked on December 17, 2010.]
Since the license originally granted to Foxwoods was revoked, there is currently one stand-alone casino license available, but it must be constructed in the city of Philadelphia, as originally mandated.
Because of the limited number of slot machines in Pennsylvania, the revenue per machine is much higher than it is in Nevada ($120 per day), where 171 thousand machines are in locations with unrestricted locations. In addition, Nevada has about 3000 locations with restricted licenses (15 slot machines or less).
Currently, both of the resort casino licenses have been awarded.
- On April 9, 2009, the Valley Forge Convention Center was licensed to operate 500 slot machines. However, after the license was awarded, the operators of Parx Casino initiated a legal battle that halted plans. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled against Parx Casino on March 8, 2011. The prospective operators of the casino at Valley Forge Convention Center are expected to resume planning and construction, but the stipulations of resort casinos were modified after initiation of the legal battle. The table games legislation, which passed in January 2010, allows resort casinos to have up to 600 slot machines and 50 table games. In response, managers updated plans, and the facility opened on March 31, 2012 as the Valley Forge Casino Resort.
- On April 14, 2011, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington was awarded a license to operate 600 slot machines. Nemacolin Woodlands also operates 28 table games.  The casino opened on July 1, 2013 as the Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin.
Under the table games legislation, a third resort casino license will be created in 2017.
|Casino||No. of Slots||Revenue|
The revenue from slot machines is taxed at 55%.
|Casino||No. of Tables||Revenue|
The revenue from table games is taxed at 14%.
- "Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board". Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Retrieved 2009-01-01.
- Members, www.pgcb.state.pa.us
- Ex officio members, www.pgcb.state.pa.us
- Thompson, Isaiah (2009-01-07). "Meet Your New Neighbor". Philadelphia CityPaper. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
- "PGCB's Director of Compulsive and Problem Gambling Provides Lawmakers With Update on Agency's Assistance Efforts". PGCB via Reuters. 2009-02-12. Retrieved 2009-04-23.[dead link]
- "PA Gaming Control Board Approves 11 Permanent Operator Licenses", www.pgcb.state.pa.us
- "PA Approves First Gaming Licenses", www.pgcb.state.pa.us