PGCB sets May 6 for SugarHouse license extension, design change hearing in Harrisburg

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has scheduled a May 6 public hearing on SugarHouse Casino’s petitions for a license extension and design change.

The hearing will be held at 11 a.m. in the State Museum Auditorium in Harrisburg. “Following the hearing, the Board will deliberate and decide whether to grant, grant with conditions, or deny the requested relief,” states a PBCB press release.

Helen Gym, board member of Asian Americans United, said that her organization will ask the PBCB to move the hearing to Philadelphia.

“If this is an issue about Philadelphia, it should be held in Philadelphia,” said Gym. She noted that four state gaming regulators traveled to Rome for a gaming conference shortly after the governor placed a ban on out-of-state travel. (They were granted an exception because the trip had been booked before the ban.) “Philadelphia is only 90 minutes away,” she said.

The location issue came up earlier this month, when representatives from both SugarHouse and Foxwoods spoke to the board about their Philadelphia projects. PBCB spokesman Doug Harbach said then that the vast majority of board meetings are held in Harrisburg because moving them costs a lot of money.

“If (a Philadelphia casino) requests a significant change to the condition of their license, such as moving to a different location, we will come into the city,” Harbach said then.

He was not available for comment Friday, but fellow PBCB spokesman Richard McGarvey said that it’s a very rare thing to move a hearing. Hearings were held in Philadelphia and other communities slated to get casinos prior to location selection, he said, but that was mandated by the legislature.

Foxwoods Casino is expected to request a location change that would move its license from Delaware and Reed to 8th and Market. If that happens, McGarvey said, the hearing will be held in Philadelphia. Board Chair Mary DiGiacomo Colins said so at the previous Board meeting.

While this hearing will be in Harrisburg, the Board has taken steps to ensure that anyone who wants to comment can do so, even if they can’t make the trip, McGarvey said. They can send comments through the Board’s website, or mail or fax them. Whatever the delivery method, these comments must be received by April 29.

Gym said this isn’t the same as being there, and noted that some Chinatown residents are not able to express themselves well in written English.

To comment in person: Anyone who wants to comment at the hearing – including public officials – must register ahead of time. They may register on the PGCB website, www.pgcb.state.pa.us, by clicking on the public meeting signup icon. Or, they may contact Board Secretary Mickey Kane at 717-346-8300 by 4 p.m. May 1, 2009.

To comment in writing: Written comments can also be submitted through the website by clicking on the public meeting icon. Comments may also be faxed to the Board Secretary at 717-346-8350 or mailed to Gaming Control Board, P.O. Box 69060, Harrisburg, PA 17106, Attention: Board Secretary. Either way, comments must be received by April 29 at noon.

The comments already provided at the April 8 meeting will be placed into the record.

Posted by Kellie Patrick Gates

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