Timestamps recap of the October 31st PA Gaming Control Board (PGCB) meeting held in Harrisburg, PA.
PA Gaming Control Board Meeting Timestamps (Introduction)
The following guide is intended as instructional material for those who wish to learn more about statewide gambling governance in the United States. It provides a full outline of the 2-hour, 40-minute meeting conducted by the PGCB on October 31st, 2018.
Our readers should note that the following statewide gambling regulatory business applies exclusively to Pennsylvania, and does not have jurisdictional standing in any other U.S. state or country. With that said, this publicly available information could serve as a general framework for understanding issues that might come before an official gambling regulatory body in any geographical region where commercial casino activities are formally licensed.
PA Gaming Control Board Meeting (Timestamps – Oct 31, 2018)
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(0:00) Intro, Pledge of Allegiance
(1:17) PGCB held executive session (quasi-judicial deliberations) on the day prior
(1:33) November 1st public input hearing for Penn National’s Category 4 facility
(2:16) PGCB Commissioner Kathy Manderino phone conference attendance
(2:45) SONIC SERVICES “Gaming Service Provider” (GSP) license revocation hearing
PGCB Office of Hearings and Appeals Deputy Chief Counsel Steve Cook explains that SONIC SERVICES, INC was granted a “Gaming Service Provider” license to operate a Lombardi’s Pizzeria eatery within the Parx Casino Bensalem property in August 2016.
Shortly thereafter, the PGCB Bureau of Investigations & Enforcement (BIE – a separate entity that acts independently from the Board aside from administrative procedural requirements), was informed by the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation (NJSCI) that the restaurant’s principal owner, Michael Giammarino, was in collaboration with organized crime figures. The Office of Enforcement Counsel (OEC) conducted its own year-long investigation and filed a complaint urging the Board to revoke the Pennsylvania GSP license of SONIC SERVICES.
A closed hearing on the matter was held in May 2018, with testimonial and documentary evidence submitted by the OEC, Parx Casino, New Jersey law enforcement, the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor (WCNYH), and Mr. Giammarino on behalf of SONIC SERVICES. In the hearing, Michael Giammarino testified that his collaboration with purported organized crime figures Joseph DeSimone (a Bonanno family ‘Capo’ who was in direct communication with Parx Casino officials and has since been banned from the property), John Delutro (owner of the Caffé Palermo pastry shop in the Little Italy district of New York City and widely regarded as the cannoli king), and John Brescio (Genovese family ‘Capo’ and step-father to Mr. Giammarino) was minimal.
The hearing officer assigned to the May 2018 closed session reported that the OEC failed to provide proof that Mr. Giammarino’s dealings with the above-named individuals was anything more than “unknowing and innocent.” As a result, the Office of Hearings and Appeals recommended that the BIE’s complaint to revoke SONIC SERVICES‘ GSP license be denied.
(7:25-14:50) Michael Giammarino provides “closing argument” testimony before the PGCB that corroborates his lack of intimate association with the individuals named in the meeting.
He communicates that Mr. Brescio’s influence over the Lombardi’s Pizzeria business was limited in nature (primarily media appearances) after it was transferred to Mr. Giammarino, that Mr. DeSimone reached out to him and was able to facilitate an immediate business meeting with Parx Casino officials, and that Mr. Delutro also initiated contact and relayed a “half-baked” plan that Mr. Giammarino ultimately rejected.
“I just don’t understand how all these people’s misdeeds all of a sudden got basically tattooed on me,” Mr. Giammarino testified. “I didn’t even know these people during the times that all these things happened.”
(14:50-17:52) Mike Roland of the Office of Enforcement Counsel provides the OEC’s closing argument. Mr. Roland states that NJSCI officials informed the Pennsylvania BIE in late 2016 that “organized crime was attempting to infiltrate Parx Casino through a planned pizzeria at the property.” Mr. Roland then repeats testimony submitted by Steve Cook on behalf of the Pennsylvania OEC, and emphasizes that the Office of Enforcement Counsel’s investigations revealed numerous ties between SONIC SERVICES and illicit dealings. PGCB chairman David Barasch informs the parties that a final vote on the matter will take place during an upcoming November 28th PGCB meeting.
(18:00) Pennsylvania sports betting, iGaming, and land-based casino license hearings
(18:14-32:23) Presque Isle Downs (a Chruchill Downs subsidiary) iGaming Certificate hearing
(32:43-37:42) Stadium Casino (Greenwood Gaming/Cordish) iGaming Certificate hearing
(37:43-46:44) Chester Downs (Harrah’s Philadelphia) Sports Wagering Certificate hearing
(46:45-58:16) Holdings Acquisition (Rivers Casino Pittsburgh) Sports Wagering Certificate hearing
(58:18-1:10:10) SugarHouse HSP Gaming (Philadelphia) Sports Wagering Certificate hearing
(1:10:13-1:17:03) Valley Forge slot machine allocation increase
(1:17:05-1:19:46) PGCB Executive Director Kevin O’Toole
- iGaming and Sports Wagering petitions update
- iGaming Certificate petitioners are making “significant progress” in meeting licensing conditions
- The PGCB delegates authority to Mr. O’Toole to “review and confirm” that potential licensees meet all conditions established by the Board
- “Good Morning” conference call audio delay momentarily interrupts unanimous vote
(1:19:47-1:21:18) PGCB Director of Human Resources: Danette Bixler-George (New Hires)
(1:21:19-1:26:02) PGCB Office of Financial Managment matters
(1:26:10-1:40:34) PGCB Chief Counsel Doug Sherman
- iGaming Certificate issuance does not authorize licensees to commence operations
- Likewise, approved Sports Wagering petitioners must meet PGCB conditions before launch
- Presque Isle Downs (online slots/online casino table games) *Approved
- Stadium Casino (online slots/online casino table games) *Approved
- Chester Downs & Marina — Harrah’s (land-based sports wagering/internet sports wagering) *Approved
- Rivers Casino (land-based sports wagering) *Approved
- SugarHouse Casino (land-based sports wagering) *Approved
- Valley Forge slot machine terminal increase from 600 to 850 *Approved
- Rivers/SugarHouse shared service agreement with Rush Street Gaming *Approved
- Chester Downs & Marina change in operational structure/property sale & sub-lease petition *Approved
- Pennsylvania Casino Involuntary Exclusion removal petitions
(1:40:34-1:47:53) — INTERMISSION —
(1:47:56-1:51:01) PGCB Chief Counsel Doug Sherman (continued)
- Reports and recommendations from Office of Hearings & Appeals
(1:51:01-2:02:42) Non-Gaming Employee license revocation hearing
In June 2017, was granted a Non-Gaming Employee permit and commenced duties as a drinks server for Hollywood Casino (Penn National Gaming). On March 1st, 2018, the Pennsylvania Office of Enforcement Counsel petitioned to revoke the license of on behalf of alleged events which occurred at Hollywood Casino, for an alleged theft of $18 (eighteen dollars, over a total of three shifts) that resulted from not registering drink sales that were requested by patrons.
In a July 2018 hearing, the OEC appeared and provided testimony to corroborate its claims against that resulted in a loss to Hollywood Casino, while appeared pro-se and also provided testimony placing the majority of the blame on faulty handheld Point of Sale (PoS) equipment that needs to be “updated,” according to . The hearing officer — after considering all evidence provided in the July hearing — recommends that the Non-Gaming Employee license not be revoked, but rather suspended for a period to be determined by the Board.
testifies that she is innocent of the allegations, describes several issues with Hollywood Casino handheld sales terminal equipment and adjustments that must be made by staff to accommodate up to 1,000 patrons in a timely manner, along with the circumstances surrounding her termination of employment by Hollywood Casino. states that on the day of her termination, Hollywood Casino Director of Surveillance Harry Garula attempted to “coerce” her into an admission of guilt.
The Board requests additional comments from the OEC, which acknowledges that there have complaints regarding some of the equipment, but that backup mechanisms were in place. says that there was no “workaround” to the handheld sales registration system, and that she was fired for using a pen and paper to register sales, as she was instructed. The OEC reminds the Board that did leave the property with the funds, and that the termination reasons communicated by Hollywood Casino to the OEC were “improper conduct and negligence.”
Following momentary deliberation off-mic, the Board approves a 15-day suspension (PGCB Commissioner Obra Kernodle IV opposes) of the Non-Gaming Employee registration. This means that may enter into gainful employment with a Pennsylvania land-based casino in roughly two weeks’ time.
(2:03:05-2:12:10) PGCB Bureau of Licensing Director Susan Hensel
- IGT conditional iGaming Operator license petition *Approved
- American Wagering (d.b.a. William Hill) conditional Sports Wagering Operator license *Approved
- Conditional Video Gaming Terminal (VGT) Operator licenses *Approved
- Conditional VGT establishment licenses (truck stops with over 50,000 gallons in recurring monthly diesel fuel sales) *Approved
- Principal and Key Employee licenses *Approved
- Temporary Principal and Key Employee licenses *Approved
- Gaming Permits and Non-Gaming Registrations
- Denial of Gaming Employee Occupation permit application *Approved
- Various withdrawals of license petitions *Approved
- Global Surveillance Associates GSP certification *Approved
- GSP registrations *Approved
(2:12:11-2:39:59) Fines & Permit Revocations, Pennsylvania OEC
Five Fines Levied by PGCB Totaling $115,000 (PGCB Press Release – Oct 31, 2018)
Approved Consent Agreement : Genesis Gaming Solutions — $8,000 + $2,500 fine for failure to submit audited financial statements in a timely manner
Approved Consent Agreement : Harrah’s Philadelphia — $10,000 + $2,500 for failure to comply with roulette chip inventory guidelines
Approved Consent Agreement : Harrah’s Philadelphia — $30,000 + $2,500 fine for (1) failure to comply with minimum slot machine paytable requirements of 85% Return to Player (RTP) on four slot terminals, which were manually overridden by an on-site slot technician, resulting in a $2,130.79 loss to vulnerable patrons, (2) failure to comply with an official notice for revocation of software for five separate slot machine terminals, and (3) failure to comply with minimum paytable requirements on one separate slot terminal, which was set at a rotational and/or data-based RTP rate below 85 percent for “four years and one-hundred five days” before the irregularity was discovered.
Approved Consent Agreement : Parx Casino — $22,500 + $2,500 fine for various progressive slot machine violations
Approved Consent Agreement : Presque Isle — $45,000 + $2,500 for various underage violations
- Other OEC business, employee registration revocations and involuntary exclusion petitions
(2:40:00) Meeting Adjournment
Read More PA Gaming Control Board Meeting Timestamps
PGCB Meeting Timestamps (Sep 12, 2018)
PGCB Meeting Timestamps (Jul 18, 2018)
Pennsylvania Category 2 Casinos – Licensing Process (May 31, 2018)
Pennsylvania Category 2 Casinos – Licensing Process (May 31, 2018)
Pennsylvania Category 4 Casino FAQs (Mar 12, 2018)
Pennsylvania Casino Self-Exclusion Regulatory Guide (Jun 17, 2018)
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