Gov­ern­ment in shad­ows

The Times-Tribune - - Editorial -

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.

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