Top cops disagree on video poker

Pennsylvania's top prosecutor said yesterday he thinks legalizing video poker is a bad idea. The state's top cop is all for it.

Attorney General Tom Corbett told the House Appropriations Committee that Gov. Rendell's proposal to make video poker legal in bars and clubs, may seem like an easy way to generate revenue but it's "the wrong way."

Corbett, responding to a lawmaker's question during a state budget hearing, said some may argue the state already has casino gambling, so what's the problem with video poker? But he said, it's "morally complicated."

"It's a difficult issue," said Corbett, who investigated illegal video poker operations 20 years ago as U.S. Attorney for the Western District in Pittsburgh. "It's a slippery slope. At some point that slippery slope has got to stop." 

Sitting before the same committee earlier yesterday, Pennsylvania State Police Commander Frank Pawlowski reiiterated his position that video poker is a thriving underground industry.

"It’s all operating under the shadows,” Pawlowski was reported as saying in the online news service Capitolwire. He called the issue “particularly frustrating.”

Pennsylvania State Police officials estimate there are roughly 17,000 video-poker machines now operating illegally, and stress that they would rather use their time to crack down on drugs and sex offenders than track illegal video-poker machines.

Rendell wants to use the tax revenue from video poker machines - which he says could top $500 million a year-  to help as many 170,000 students attend college.



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