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Pa. gaming board fights misconduct claims

HARRISBURG -- The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has fired back at Republican lawmakers, saying the allegations they made about misconduct at the agency impugns its integrity.

In a letter the board released on Wednesday, all seven voting members called upon Rep. Curt Schroder, R-Chester County, and Rep. Mike Vereb, R-Montgomery County, to turn over to them the substance of any wrongdoing by the board's Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement.

"Any refusal on your part to provide the information only makes you complicit in undermining the integrity of gaming, which you so strongly allege is occurring," the board members said.

The agency oversees the licensing and regulation of Pennsylvania's 10 casinos.

Vereb and Schroder, chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, announced last week that they were creating a website for anyone to file complaints against people in the agency or industry. Vereb said it was necessary because of a rigid environment in the agency that prevented people from coming forward.

Before they announced the website's formation, Vereb said he had received complaints from agents about inappropriate activity, which he declined to specify, that was turned over to law enforcement.

He said he will not provide any information to the board.

"There's zero chance, if I find any criminal wrongdoing, I'm going to go running to the agency I'm criticizing for not doing anything with it in the first place," Vereb said. "How can they demand we turn it over• There's no chance I'll flirt with obstructing a criminal investigation."

The board accused the lawmakers of acting to leverage passage of Vereb's bill to move its enforcement arm to the Attorney General's Office. That bill has passed the House but was declared dead on arrival in the Senate by Sen. Jane Earll, R-Erie.

Vereb said he understands why the board could view his motivation that way, but he said the whistle-blower website provides an important function.

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