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Slot Machines Next Generation of Gambling Legacy in Pennsylvania

Once upon a time, Chester Stupak reigned as the region's king of dice, managing a well-known but illegal gambling establishment on the south side, while the lawmakers and police officers feigned indifference.

65 year-old Bob, Stupak's son, said that a lot of people knew that illegal gambling was taking place, but no one paid attention to it because gambling is a part of the daily life of the residents in the area.

Gambling remains in demand in Pittsburgh from slot machines, bingo games, OTB Betting Parlors and many more.

The Meadows Racetrack and Casino located in North Strabane, which was supposed to open on June 2, 2007 is the first slots parlor to open in the area, 4 months after the opening of the Presque Isle Downs in Erie, making a total of $500,000.

That much cash represents part of the potential for the slots parlor of Pittsburgh, the Majestic Star Casino, which is scheduled to open late next year.

Players looking for a good game do not have to wait for either slots establishment to open. They can just go to the back room of any of the 300 Pittsburgh bars and clubs to play any casino table game they want to play. The bars and restaurants are licensed to hold 800 video poker machines and slot machines.

The current law states that the games must be for entertainment only. Shop owners say that they do not pay the winners. The Police Department says that they rarely investigate without any complaints filed before them.

Like other local municipalities, Pittsburgh charges a yearly licensing fee of $485 per slot machines, making $389,940 annually. License holders must sign a certificate that the games cannot be utilized for gambling, and the Police Department investigate tips about illegal betting, according to Chief Building Inspector, Ron Graziano.

Pittsburgh Police Officers have apprehended a dozen suspects this year for making payouts on the casino games, a misdemeanor charge, according to Detective John McBurney from the vice unit of the city.

As Westmoreland County Treasurer, Kathalyn O'Brien, stated illegal Poker Tournaments and Casino gambling nights fall into a gray area.

Most games are illegal, but they are not investigated unless someone reports it. Bars and restaurants can host poker tournaments and give prizes as long as the players do not need to pay to participate in the game, according to Robert George, an officer from the Liquor Control Enforcement Division in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Police Officers are investigating the legality of the charity tournaments held behind the bars, according to Lt. Bill Matthias, the head of the narcotics and vice units.

Police rarely have the chance to talk to the players about making bets. Stupak who grew up in the South Side often woke up to find people playing craps in his home.

Stupak said that their life has been greatly affected by gambling. Personally Stupak said that he does not want Pittsburgh to have any slot parlors.


Wednesday, 20 June 2007
Marissa Patterson