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Future bright for Pennsylvania's casinos, Gaming Control Board chairman says

| Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, 10:30 p.m.

HARRISBURG — A debt-hobbled New Jersey casino may be on the brink of bankruptcy, but Pennsylvania's top gambling regulator said Thursday he does not expect the same financial fate for any of Pennsylvania's 11 casinos.

Bill Ryan, chairman of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, told the state Senate Appropriations Committee that the casino gambling industry appears to be in good shape in Pennsylvania, now the nation's second-largest gambling market.

“I don't see anything on the horizon,” Ryan said in a response to a question by Sen. John Wozniak, D-Cambria.

Revel in Atlantic City, N.J., plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March, less than a year after it opened, in a move designed to offload about two-thirds of its $1.5 billion in debt by converting more than $1 billion of it into equity for lenders.

Revel was the first new casino built in Atlantic City since the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa opened in 2003, an ambitious and risky project in a declining market buffeted by growing competition from casinos in Pennsylvania and other nearby states.

Ryan also was asked about Attorney General Kathleen Kane's conclusion that Gov. Tom Corbett's private lottery management contract conflicts with the Gaming Control Board's authority over slot machines, part of the reason she rejected it.

Ryan said he was not prepared to respond, but senators asked him to produce a legal opinion from the agency's lawyers and deliver it to the Appropriations Committee.

Corbett appointed Ryan to the gaming board in 2011. Ryan was Corbett's top deputy in the attorney general's office when Corbett was elected governor in 2010.

The governor has said he will say Friday whether he will file a court appeal of Kane's rejection of the 20- to 30-year lottery contract with British firm Camelot Global Services.

Kane announced her decision after Corbett undertook a nine-month process to find and hire a private company to replace state employees running the state's lotteries.

The legality of the contract is being challenged in court by Democratic lawmakers and the union that represents lottery employees.

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