Pennsylvania Gaming Board Picks Firms to Do Background Checks

HARRISBURG -- To speed the process of licensing casino operators and slot machine manufacturers, state regulators will hire up to three outside financial consulting firms, including one based in Pittsburgh.

The seven-member Gaming Control Board authorized Chairman Thomas "Tad" Decker yesterday to contact Corporate Investigations Inc. of Pittsburgh and two firms from northern Virginia.

They could be hired, at least for a few months, to complete financial background investigations of gaming operators, slots makers and suppliers, and non-gaming firms like food vendors, housekeeping and security firms.

The Virginia companies are Manuel, Daniels, Burke International and Omnisec International, a minority-owned firm.

The financial background checks will be under the direction of David Kwait, director of the Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement for the gaming board.

He said the board will eventually hire about 50 accountants and other financial experts to scrutinize audits, Internal Revenue Service reports and Securities and Exchange Commission filings of the casino operators and other gaming-related companies that want to be licensed for business in Pennsylvania.

To wait for a full staff to be hired for the financial background checks could take six months or more, Kwait said, which will delay the process of licensing slots makers and casinos. Hiring the outside companies will speed the licensing process.

The gaming board is hoping by spring to license seven racetrack/casinos, including The Meadows, with licenses being issued later in 2006 to five free-standing casinos and two resort hotel casinos.

In a related matter, the gaming board said yesterday it had received a formal application from the first slots manufacturer that wants to be licensed for business in Pennsylvania -- International Game Technology, a major maker of slot machines.

Applications from other slots manufacturers, as well as from slots suppliers, which will act as middlemen between the manufacturers and casinos, are expected soon.

In other business, the board approved draft regulations for licensing the free-standing and resort hotel casinos. They can be found at Comments from the public will be accepted, only in writing, until Sept. 6.

The board also said it will conduct "diversity forums" for minority- and women-owned businesses, to help them learn how to do business with casinos. One will be at Temple University in Philadelphia on Sept. 29 and one at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27.

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