Pennsylvania Gambling Funds Diverted

An investigation by a local newspaper has found that the Pennsylvania legislature has used funds meant to combat illegal gambling in the state for other purposes.

Millions of dollars in casino income set aside by the state of Pennsylvania to battle competition to the state’s casinos from illegal gambling has been almost entirely diverted by the legislature to other purposes, according to results of an investigation by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The grant program, funded by the state’s portion of casino income, is administered by the state Gaming Control Board. Created by Pennsylvania’s 2004 gaming law, the grants, totaling $5 million a year, are only to be used under the statute to combat illegal slot machines. However, according to the Tribune-Review report, a total of only $5 million has been spent for that purpose since the law’s enactment 12 years ago.

Instead, the board has granted money for a variety of local projects around the state, many addressing the recent heroin epidemic. Both board members and local officials say the restrictions on the grant money are onerous, and that illegal slot machines in bars were already being addressed by the state Liquor Control Board, which grants liquor licenses.

Because of that, local officials across the state say funding programs battling drugs and violent crime present a much more pressing concern than illegal gambling.

State officials have not commented on how the grant program might be changed in the future.