Government in shadows
State lawmakers who normally run over one another while racing to the microphones ran just as fast in the opposite direction this week, when asked who was responsible for a particularly grungy specialinterest amendment favoring the Mount Airy Casino Resort in Monroe County.
The moribund Legislature failed yet again to pass an honest budget incorporating tax reform and a fair distribution of the burden, opting yet again to expand gambling as a supposed answer to the state government’s financial problems.
But it couldn’t even do that honestly. The new law allows the creation of up to 10 small casinos, each of which must be at least 25 miles from the nearest of 12 major casinos. That buffer is meant to protect the big casinos’ regional markets, while giving more state residents the opportunity to lose their money to the gambling industry and its subsidiary, the state.
But at the last minute, as first reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer, an unidentified state senator attached an amendment to the bill that vastly expands the buffer zone exclusively for the Mount Airy Casino. The amendment’s wording effectively precludes the establishment of a mini-casino in Wayne, Pike and Carbon counties, which have borders with Monroe County.
Pike and Wayne counties are between Mount Airy and the big New Jersey and New York markets that Mount Airy attempts to mine for customers. The new law precludes a potential intermediary destination for those gamblers.