Anti-casino advocates file with state office of open records

Wednesday, attorneys for two advocacy groups that are seeking documents Foxwoods Casino filed with the state submitted more legal documents to the state’s Office of Open Records.

Paul Boni, who represents Casino-Free Philadelphia, and Adam Cutler, who represents the Chinatown Preservation Alliance for the Public Interest Law Center, had earlier this year filed public records requests with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, asking for a report that Foxwoods was required to file with the PGCB’s Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement in October, as a condition of the two-year license extension the Gaming Control Board granted the casino in August.

Casino officials were told to describe their efforts to develop a Columbus Boulevard facility with at least 1,500 slot machines and detail their efforts and progress toward financing that casino. They also had to submit a list of all outstanding licenses, certifications and permits that they need from federal, state, county, local and other agencies, and provide a progress report on the status of each of them.

The PGCB denied the records request, saying that the information was part of an on-going, non-criminal investigation, and therefore not public information. So Boni and Cutler appealed to the Office of Open Records.

Both the PGCB and Foxwoods – which also says the documents should be private – filed responses, which said, in short, that in addition to being part of a non-criminal investigation, the documents contain information which the state gaming law defines as private.

In the response filed Wednesday, Boni and Cutler argue that the PGCB has not demonstrated that the documents were collected as part of an investigation, nor offered any evidence that the information contained in the report qualifies as confidential under state law.

Boni and Cutler also say that even if there is some information that is confidential under state law, the state’s Right To Know Law requires the PGCB to release the documents with redactions.

The PBCG and Foxwoods attorneys have until next Tuesday, Dec. 8, to respond. The Office of Open Records is expected to make a decision mid-month. Both the petitioners and the PGCB have the right to appeal that decision to Commonwealth Court.


Posted by Kellie Patrick Gates. Contact her at kelliespatrick@gmail.com

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.