Public Comments Regarding the Proposed Hollywood Casino Morgantown before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Hearing Board

March 4, 2019

Hon Sam Rohrer, Former State Representative (128th); Pres Pennsylvania Pastors Network, and American Pastors Network

Members of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, my name is Sam Rohrer. Today, I speak as a citizen who for 40 years has lived only several miles from the proposed location of the Hollywood Casino. I have a personal interest in the well-being of this community as my 6 children and 14 grandchildren live within a 20 miles radius of this proposed Casino. I have a vested interest in representing them and all other families who are seeking to bring up their children with wholesome values of hard work and productive employment, but that isn’t the only vested interest I have.  I speak also as a former State Representative who for 18 years served the 128 district which includes this community. I speak with full confidence that my comments accurately represent the citizens of not only Caernarvon Township but also of the citizens who reside immediately to the West, South, North, and East in Western Chester and Eastern Lancaster, and Southern Berks Counties. As President of the Pennsylvania Pastors Network, I also speak on behalf of pastors and moral leaders who are seeking to stem the moral slide of our culture running into the arms of disaster as sex abuse is on the increase and as families are falling apart due to drug, opioid, alcohol and gambling addictions.   

While some proponents of this casino will offer some ‘benefits’, all will likely cite the only possible but nonetheless disingenuous and elusive benefit of personal financial gain or tax revenue enhancements. The proponents will conspicuously ignore the obvious reality that unlike normal business, gambling gives no money that hasn’t first been taken from those least able to lose it, or that gambling produces an addiction to the ‘get rich quick’ mentality and gambling clouds the judgment of some public officials and business leaders leading some to compromise community values over the allure of money.

Because the negative impacts of gambling are statistically astounding (and I could cite many), I’d like to conclude my comments in the form of several common-sense questions. To the supervisors, why would you consider the unique nature of this community and the culture of the people who voted for you to be of such little value that a pragmatic decision to gain a few dollars outstrip what you know will bring negative impacts on this community?   What cultural or moral values do you offer in exchange for a few potential dollars extracted from hoodwinked and possible addicted gamblers? To the Gaming Commission members, what cultural value does a major gambling casino contribute to our community in this Tri-County area?  What upstanding values of character, integrity or work ethic will a casino offer our children or our families? What upstanding moral attributes can a gambling facility offer any community but especially to our historically God-fearing culture? I know of none.

Why does Penn National Gaming hire ESI Consult Solutions, Inc to compile a limited focus economic Local Impact Report which cites the few financial benefits of a casino in glowing terms buts cites no negatives? Why aren’t honest, unbiased and comprehensive Local Impact Reports required by the Gaming Control Board, demanded by the Caernarvon Supervisors, or volunteered by Penn National? A comprehensive report should include the local impact on families, the local impact on the moral and social health of the community, and the local impact on pre-existing cultural values.   

Why are entire sections of the Penn National Online application to the Gaming Control Board for this Hollywood Casino Morgantown Redacted or blanked out? What is being withheld from the public? For instance, where a simple Yes or No answer was visible for certain questions, it was redacted for questions, # 10 – #16 which reads,  “During the last 10 year period, has applicant, its parent company, or any of its affiliates, intermediaries, subsidiaries, holding companies, principals, employees or any third parties acting for or on behalf of applicant made any bribes or kickbacks or made any payments alleged to have  been bribes or kickbacks to any employee, person, company or organization to obtain favorable treatment?”

I was in the PA House in the marathon session when the gambling consortium bought its way into PA. They promised to be at a few racetracks but are now invading settled and wholesome communities all across the state as free-standing casinos.  In the final minutes of the debate, just after midnight on Sunday Morning, July 4, 2004, I argued against this legislation by stating that if passed, this opening of the door to gambling would introduce a creeping cultural cancer into our Commonwealth. I stated how ironic it was that the PA General Assembly outlined by William Penn and led first by Benjamin Franklin would on Independence Day foist dependence on the citizens of Pennsylvania with gambling legislation. Furthermore, that on Sunday, God’s Day the PA House would deliver the temptation of ‘legalized’ gambling which fuels the base desires of covetousness, greed and selfishness. I was also there when Members of the House were convicted and sent to jail for selling their integrity for gambling. My vote against gambling and for independence was right then. My comments today remain the objective truth.

For the Gaming Control Board to place a Casino in the conservative Morgantown area is incongruous. While gambling may now be legal, it remains inconsistent with and abhorred by most communities in Pennsylvania. For these substantive reasons and more, if the Gaming Control Board believes that a community in which a casino is placed should be welcoming, then Morgantown, Caernarvon Township, New Morgan or anywhere in the Tri-County area is not that community.  

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