Casinos should provide their own security
Asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton supposedly responded: "because that's where the money is."
That's still true, but most banks no longer have armed guards to protect the cash because, with the proliferation of so many branches, that's simply too expensive. Banks rely on video surveillance and police.
Banks pay taxes, but unlike casinos in Pennsylvania, they do not have a symbiotic relationship with the state government, which is the principal beneficiary of gambling, yet its regulator.
Last week, during a budget hearing regarding the supposedly under-staffed state police, several state senators revealed the extent of the state's affinity for gambling when they wondered aloud why troopers are assigned directly to casinos.
Even while seeking more staffing, state police assign 140 troopers to casinos, and that will increase to 151 when the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Fayette County opens a table games casino later this year.
Casinos pay for the troopers' presence, but no other private business can buy that level of security. Sen. Robert Tomlinson, a Bucks County Republican, claimed that the assignments are warranted due to the heavy state regulation of casinos, and the billions of dollars of revenue that the state extracts from gamblers at the casinos.
The purpose of the state police, however, is to serve the public, not casinos. And casinos won't suffer without state police on hand; they are famous for obsessive security. Every inch of every casino is covered by cameras. When thefts occur, police can investigate them, just as they would investigate any other crime.
Casinos aren't the only heavily regulated private business in Pennsylvania. Nor are they the only private enterprise that produces public revenue.
Assigning state police to casinos, who could be engaged in conventional state police work, is a skewed priority that sends a dubious message about the status of a particular favored industry.
Lawmakers should ensure that the state police perform state police work. The casinos can provide for their own security.