The law that prohibited Pennsylvanian casino operators from contributing to political campaigns has now officially been lifted. The ruling which was delivered on Wednesday, September 19 by U.S. District Judge Sylvia Rambo, a federal judge, cited the fact the provision violated constitutional protections over political associations.
According to the judge in her 32-page opinion, the went beyond what is expected to include what she considers to be a too broad category of individuals and companies. As per the provisions of the law, casino owners, as well as people with stakes in any gambling business in the Keystone State, were prohibited from making any kind of donations to political campaigns. This included even people who only have slight associations with the gambling industry as well as prominent casino employees like managers and directors.
Pennsylvania’s gambling industry is without a doubt one of the leading ones in terms of commercial casino revenue, and therefore the goal of the law was to protect the industry from being affected by political influence and lobbying power. The law further sort to eliminate or at least reduce corruption and keep the casino industry from influencing the state’s political decisions.
Unfortunately, while the ban was intended to bring some positive developments, Judge Rambo pointed out that in the form it was in, the ban extended beyond the necessary scope of the original idea by acting as an overall ban on campaign contributions. She believes that a better way of going about the is ensuring that the prohibition has a clearer and narrower definition of the parties that should be banned from making any donations or contributions to political campaigns.
“The stated purpose of the law is legitimate and commendable to the extent it seeks to prohibit corruption or the appearance of corruption, yet a laudable purpose is not dispositive as to the law’s constitutionality,” she wrote in her 32-page memorandum. “The court holds only that the ban in its current form goes much further than necessary to achieve its stated purpose of eliminating corruption and the appearance of corruption.”
This provision has largely been a part of Pennsylvania state law since 2004 when commercial casino businesses were legalized – it was touted as “a major bulwark against gambling industry influence.” However, even though many agreed that it was indeed going to have a positive impact on the state’s gambling industry, there were some concerns regarding its implementation.
The success of the lawsuit that was filed sometime last year by Pasquale Deon, who owns a 2.5 percent stake in Sands Casino, Bethlehem marks the second time that the law has been struck down. The first time was in 2009 when the state’s Supreme Court said that the ban had gone beyond the law’s original wording. However, lawmakers later restored it, citing that they had initially intended to bad all contributions.