High Court Nixes Anti-Casino Group’s Suit

The Supreme Court declined to rule unconstitutional part of the Gaming Act that required the state gaming board to take into consideration the “social effects” of gaming.

The decision in Casino-Free Philadelphia v. Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board was a blow to the efforts of anti-casino groups who have tried numerous times to halt gaming in the city through court actions.

The groups argued that Section 1102(10) of the act, which provides that the public interest of the citizens and the social effects of gaming be taken into consideration when making gaming-related decision, violates the anti-delegation clause of the state Constitution. That clause provides that the legislative power of the state should be vested with the two houses of the legislature.

The anti-casino groups argued that Section 1102(10) violates the clause because it does not include any standards for the gaming board to evaluate the social effects of gaming, according to the opinion written by Chief Justice Ralph J. Cappy.

The court denied the groups’ petition for injunctive relief as moot because it had already ruled in Pennsylvanians Against Gambling Expansion Fund v. Commonwealth that the board had sufficient guidance under the act in making its licensing decisions.

It then denied the declaratory relief action, ruling that the section was not unconstitutional because the “social effects” clause is only one of several considerations the board must review.

— Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter

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