Senator Yaw Audio Yaw Joins Effort for PA Gaming Board Reform

Bill to stop industry-government revolving door would target Gaming Board abuses.

Harrisburg – State Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23) today joined legislators calling for greater controls on spending and oversight of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Senator Yaw took part in a news conference in which lawmakers demanded answers from the PGCB regarding its travel expenses — including trips to Italy and Las Vegas — after the governor imposed an out-of-state travel ban.

The reform effort includes Senator Yaw’s legislation designed to help stop the revolving door of state government, which allows employees to move between industry jobs and government jobs which influence that industry.

“The Gaming Board oversees interests important to both taxpayers and the gaming industry, and without the proper reforms in place the line between the two interests could become blurred, as we’ve seen,” said Yaw.

A Pittsburgh media outlet reported that David Kwait, former director of the PGCB’s Bureau of Investigation, went on a state-paid trip to a gaming conference in Las Vegas last fall after announcing his plans to retire.  Kwait went on to take a job with a law firm representing MTR Gaming, which owns casinos in West Virginia and Erie.

Senator Yaw’s measure would impose a two-year waiting period for employees who are responsible for the awarding of state contracts – or the development of policies or requirements relating to these contracts – and who want to work for a company to which their agency has awarded a contract.

A similar two-year waiting period would apply to private-sector employees who want government jobs inside an agency their company has contracted with.

In September 2008, Gov. Ed Rendell enacted an out-of-state travel ban for state employees.  Despite this executive decision, board members proceeded to attend conferences in Las Vegas and Rome, Italy, at taxpayers’ expense.

“Extravagant travel by members who then leave to work for the gaming industry is not acceptable. At a time when the state is facing a huge budget deficit, we need to rein in costs and implement my legislation to draw a clear line between the interests of the taxpayers and the gaming industry.”

Contact: Adam Pankake
(717) 787-3280