Coy leaving Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board

Former Pa. legislator says he is not yet ready for retirement but doesn't know what comes next

January 26, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Coy

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. — Soon, for the first time in 35 years, Jeff Coy will be without a job in the public sector.

Coy, who began his career as a legislative assistant, represented Franklin and Cumberland counties for 22 years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, then served three, two-year terms on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Coy, 59, has reached his term limit on the gaming board.

He'll step down in a couple weeks after his successor passes required background checks.

"I've enjoyed public life. There have been better days than others, but by and large they've been good days," said Coy, who lives in his hometown of Shippensburg.

Coy said he's not ready for "the R word" — retirement — but doesn't know what he'll do next. His plans for the immediate future include working with his church, the board of Orrstown Bank and the Masons.

Coy, an admirer of John F. Kennedy, said he always wanted to be a leader, dating back to his time on student council.

"I sort of gravitated to government work, political work," he said.

Coy left his elected position within the 89th House District when appointed to the gaming board in late 2004. As an inaugural member of the board, Coy worked with six other members — among them a judge, former FBI agent and college president — to establish gaming in Pennsylvania and license the first casinos.

"It is an industry that begs for regulation," Coy said.

The board spent the early days thinking about the buses that took Pennsylvania residents, particularly senior citizens, to Atlantic City, N.J., on a regular basis, Coy said.

"The question always was how much would we cut into that?" he said.

Coy said he believes Pennsylvania's casinos took more than 20 percent of Atlantic City's business.

Pennsylvania issued its first casino license in December 2006. Today, 11 casinos are licensed and 10 of those are operational.

The recession curtailed plans for several projects that had hotels and restaurants attached to them, Coy said. When projects change ownership or financing, necessary background checks can delay projects, he said.

So far, gaming has generated $3.6 billion in taxes. Of that, $2 billion has been used to reduce property owners' tax bills.

Coy said he'll be off the gaming board before a Category 3 resort-casino license is awarded to one of four applicants, which include a proposed Penn National Gaming project outside Gettysburg, Pa.

 He said the board has always strived to be unanimous in decisions, but can't reach agreement on the license for up to 600 slot machines and 50 table games.

"I think your decisions are stronger if unanimous," Coy said.

Coy said he'd offer new gaming board members advice if solicited.

"Neither being in the legislature nor on the gaming control board is for the faint of heart," he said.

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