When Pennsylvania’s 14 slot machine parlors eventually open, no issue is going to be more important to the citizens of this state than law enforcement. The nature of gambling casinos (which these will be) is that they attract suckers, fun-seekers and, unfortunately, people with crime on their minds. The first two groups must be tolerated. As for the third group, the state must spare no effort to keep them out — or at least under surveillance.
Pennsylvania will attempt to do this in several ways, including: background checks of license applicants, investors and employees; a ”24/7” presence in the slots parlors to supervise financial practices and accounting; and with more routine law enforcement, paying attention to offenses ranging from drug sales to muggings in the parking lots. The Pennsylvania State Police will have prime responsibility for most of this, with county district attorneys and local police playing roles, as well.
State Police Commissioner Col. Jeffrey B. Miller began planning how his department would meet its responsibilities regarding slot machines last year, in anticipation of their eventual approval. Now, new officers are being hired, building on expertise already in-house in the areas of white-collar crime and organized crime, for instance.
Gov. Ed Rendell has estimated that the cost of new state police work will be about $23 million. (Another $5 million will be available to local law enforcement, and the state will reimburse local district attorneys for their slots-related costs.)
It’s hard to judge — at this early stage, in a state that has not had this type of legal gambling before — whether these investments are sufficient. The money to do investigations and enforce laws will come from the state’s share of gambling revenue, so we expect that adjustments will be made later, …