Barash looks back on Pennsylvania’s gambling growth and future

“High Stakes: Powering Pennsylvania Gambling “Player”An ongoing series by Play Pennsylvania featuring interviews with the people forming the nPA casino and sports betting industry. Pennsylvania reported record gambling revenue for the 2020/2021 fiscal year.Created by combining all forms of gambling in Pennsylvania $ 3.9 billion With revenue $ 150 million With state tax revenue.

Chairman of the Pennsylvania Gambling Management Committee David M. Barash Submit his gavel, Announced retirement on July 15.. It is not known that Barash hits Gavel or dominates with an iron fist. Instead, he led with a uniform keel, a calm tone, and a supportive attitude.

Barash was helpful Ex officio of PGCB from 2007 to 2008. 2015, Governor Tom Wolf He appointed President Barash and accepted his second three-year term in 2018. All PGCB Commissioners For a limited time Up to 6 years. Denise Smiler Appointed as new president.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Expanding gambling in Pennsylvania

Does 2015 feel like a minute or ten years ago? What was your biggest challenge when you were chairman?

Barash: It feels like a blink. It was an interesting and rewarding situation, but I’m glad I was able to do it. Governor Wolf thought it was good to have a former prosecutor in charge of the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission (PGCB). The first big challenge was the expansion of gambling. The board relied heavily on what was happening in New Jersey and Nevada. It was a challenge for professional staff who do a lot of work.

One of the first things that happened as a result of the expansion was bidding Mini casino.. The state received bids at five auctions in 2018.

Barash: Thanks to my background, when I went to the auction, I was immediately very interested and worried about the possibility of collusion in bidding. We have designed several systems on how bids were received and opened. The first round raised far more money than the governor and the General Assembly expected.

In October 2018, Governor Wolf signed a gambling expansion bill, and in June 2019, online sportsbooks began to be launched in Pennsylvania. What was it like to prepare things during those months?

Barash: I’m a part-timer and I’ve done everything I can to double the fact that there are experts living and breathing this. I told (Secretary General) Kevin O’Toole that the board and I wouldn’t try to control it in detail. We met regularly and he told me about the work he was doing to start sports betting. I can’t say enough about the attitude of my seniors. They knew it would be a challenge, focused and attacked it with many thoughts. I did whatever I could to empower Kevin and the best people in our agency to understand how we do it. Evidence is in the pudding. I was in time for the deadline, but so far there are no major issues.

You say you are worried about underage gambling and worried about online casinos and sports betting geopositions. In most cases, your fears didn’t come true. Can you talk about some of your concerns about VGT?

Barash: VGT has always been conceptually problematic. When gambling on casino slot machines, surveillance is done in real time and there are people working at the casino’s PGCB. How can you effectively ensure that everything you’re worried about at a casino isn’t happening on a different scale at a truck stop? No one can enter all truck stops. We have used many techniques for surveillance.

Coronavirus closes PA casino

Coronavirus closed PA Casino for about three months starting in March 2020 and then for several weeks in December. What challenges did this pose for PGCB?

Barash: It put a lot of stress on our staff and many of them were in closed casinos, so most of them had to be fired. You are worried about how you will reach the level of professionalism we had before COVID.

We haven’t been together as a group for 18 months. There was little direct contact between board members. For the first four and a half years, I was in the office on a regular basis and was accustomed to talking face-to-face with people. Then COVID came in and it became difficult to try to stop the pulse with your fingers. You lose that sense of what people are worried about. My goal was to try to do things by consensus. It’s much easier to do when people are sitting around a table and talking about it in an executive session.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Commission has also experienced significant sales.

Barash: There was unprecedented sales on this board both before and during COVID. In the most recent election, three of the four legislative appointees were defeated or did not run. That is a rare situation. You tend to work with commissioners for a while and learn their tendencies, and it’s even more difficult when you don’t meet them in person.

Given the high turnover rate, it is worth noting that we were able to keep moving forward. Over the last five years, there have been far more changes to the board than at any other time. I’m taking the lead, but I’m also looking for consensus. To do that, you need to talk to people. I’m sure Dennis will do a great job.

Growth of iGaming in Pennsylvania

Online casino It began arriving in Pennsylvania in June 2021. Revenue from iGaming in PA for 2020/21 That was all $ 897.2 million AGR (Adjusted total income).that is 272.5% Almost increased $ 240.9 One million What happened in the previous year,

What do you think of the iGaming explosion in Pennsylvania?

Barash: For us, the predictions we made about the growth of iGaming and sports betting were much lower than what happened. It was not possible to predict that the casino would be closed. How much of that blast is your love for iGaming, as opposed to not being able to play in the casino? I think we will find it in the next few months as more people will be able to return to the casino comfortably. Will iGaming numbers level off? We reached a higher level of revenue much faster than expected. But I don’t know if it’s a temporary phenomenon.

About keeping order

When asked how he maintained order during his time as chairman, Barash said in a cowboy tone that was part of a significant number of OK ranch duels, “This is not my first rodeo.” I just answered.

His legal affairs Career spanned 47 years In state, federal and private practices.He was a defender of the state Three Mile Island Nuclear Accident Proceedings Also, regarding the utility case that appeared in the Supreme Court.In another notable case, as a US lawyer, Barash then Pennsylvania Attorney General Ernest Plate Jr...In jail Price included Ask for $ 20,000 in a secret banned cash donation from its owner Illegal gambling business..

Why did you choose not to talk to the media when you were chairman?

Barash: I am the chair of the board of directors to vote. I have a lot of opinions, and I’m generally not the one who hides his opinions. But I found that if you were playing the role of a semi-judiciary person, you had to shut up.

Online Casino Growth and Customers Return to Casino

There is certain from the COVID shutdown that Barash and his wife still think are part of their lives.Barash watch Streaming service movies And I wonder when he will return to the theater.He prefers to order and pick up groceries first Curve side.. All these changes make him think about Pennsylvania casinos.

Will people return to the same number of casinos, or do they have online gambling cannibal brick and mortar casinos?

Barash: I think it’s a challenge for a real-store casino. Even if they have skin in online games, a lot of money has been invested in physical casinos. If the first experience of legal iGaming and sports betting people happened during COVID, it disconnected the physical store casino connection. Everyone is trying to cover their bets. I think it’s a big challenge for the casino industry. Is this an extraordinary development, returning to our idea of ​​what the industry will look like, or is it a permanent change?

I think my wife and I will never stop curbside pickups from giants. It makes my life so much easier. Come to think of it, I didn’t like grocery shopping.

What’s next?

The 73-year-old Barash doesn’t sound like a man ready to sit in a rocking chair on the balcony. He states that he would have continued to chair if permitted by law. He attends Cornell University Law School and remembers his desire to change the world.

What do you miss the most?

Barash: I miss being involved in public policy issues. The hardest part for me is watching shows on the stands and discussing public policy that day. I was happy to be able to do this for the governor. I may still find something else to do.

Lead photo of PGCB Twitter. From left, Chairman David Barasch, PGCB Commissioner Kathy Manderino, and Exec. Director Kevin O’Toole.

Barash looks back on Pennsylvania’s gambling growth and future

Source link Barash looks back on Pennsylvania’s gambling growth and future

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