Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Commissioner Sean Logan stepped down on July 5 and will join the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. His term on the gaming board was set to expire at the end of 2022. Logan exited on a high note.
On July 19, the PGCB reported that Pennsylvania casinos set a new record for gambling revenue with $5 billion. Logan played a key role in bringing online casinos and sports betting to the state, which powered the big year. The numbers display the healthy growth of the gambling industry in PA and brought in $114 million in tax dollars for the state.
For Logan, it isn’t just about numbers. Serving on the board has been about relationships, overseeing gambling expansion, and increasing safety measures for unattended children at casinos.
His true legacy will be the safety of children
During the PGCB monthly meeting in July, Logan was presented with a resolution for his service.
Board Chair Denise Smyler praised Logan’s nearly six years of service:
“While Sean’s legislative experience and insight into the intent behind many aspects of the Gaming Act was invaluable, perhaps what he will most be remembered for is his passion for protecting kids. For many years, we’ve had a problem of parents leaving kids unattended in cars, hotel rooms, and elsewhere while they played at casinos.”
“Sean correctly stated that we have been very fortunate that this has not resulted in a tragedy at a PA casino. While no one wants to see this happen, no one was more passionate about this issue than Sean. Because of him, I believe every operator in the Commonwealth, our staff, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the local police, are much more focused on this issue. That will be his true legacy to this board.”
Gambling expansion in Pennsylvania
PlayPennsylvania interviewed Logan about his time as Commissioner on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
While serving in the Pennsylvania State Senate, Logan voted for the original Gaming Bill. In 2017, Logan resigned from the Turnpike Commission and joined the gaming board. Logan was appointed to the board by State Sen. Jay Costa.
What was it like joining the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board during this period of gambling expansion in Pennsylvania?
Logan: We underestimated how much success there would be. Between the revenue, the amount of tax dollars generated and the sheer number of employees at casinos…we underestimated it. It’s been a wonderful five and a half years watching this industry evolve.
I’ve been involved in a lot of organizations and the leadership and the staff at the PGCB are one of the best. As a board member and a tax payer, it gives me a lot of comfort to know that the staff is phenomenal. Kevin O’Toole (Executive Director) and the whole staff do a wonderful job and it was great to watch the expansion.
Pennsylvania was one of the first states to launch online casinos and sports betting. You didn’t have the luxury of taking notes from other states. How did you even begin to get it off the ground?
Logan: For me, it was putting the trust in Kevin O’Toole, the leadership, and the staff. It was daunting as a board member to think about. We were concerned about whether or not if we were going to get it right. There was constant communication with the staff about recommending the best practices and best policies.
The mission of the PA Gaming Control Board
What has kept you on the board for six years?
Logan: There is no other board like this. There are Republicans and Democrats and gubernatorial appointees. Everybody checks that at the door and you are seven individuals with the same mission: to make this industry successful and protect the Commonwealth and the taxpayers. It’s also about recognizing the casinos are our partners. We want them to thrive and adhere to our rules.
Parkinson’s but no pulling back for Logan
In 2017 at 47 years old, Logan was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Since then, he’s helped raise awareness of the disease.
“After a Parkinson’s diagnosis, one can pull back and feel sorry for themselves – or they can get motivated.” What continues to motivate you?
Logan: Folks who know me understand that “pulling back” is certainly not in my make-up. I get motivated every day to kick the shit out of Parkinson’s. Not only for me, but for my kids, and everyone else’s kids who have Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s sucks but it can be beat. It is a daily struggle but you can not let it get the upper hand on you.
Unattended kids at PA casinos
Children left unattended in cars and hotel rooms at Pennsylvania casinos have been an ongoing problem. Each month during board meetings, various people land on the involuntary exclusion list for leaving children alone, usually in a car so that they can gamble. Logan has been passionate and persistent in his line of questioning about the incidents.
Casinos have increased their efforts to monitor and mitigate the issue.
Valley Forge Casino and Wind Creek Casino presented the PGCB with multimillion-dollar plans to detect children left alone on the property and in parking lots. Also, increased signage reminding parents/guardians not to leave children unattended is present and visible at more casinos.
Logan: How in the hell do we solve this? The unfortunate part for me is we didn’t solve it. We have made tremendous headway but we didn’t solve it. We have folks rowing in the same direction now and created awareness around the issue.
I will never understand it, which makes it so hard to solve. You can’t legislate or regulate parenting. It’s by the grace of God that nothing tragic has happened. We are gonna run out of our good luck here where a kid gets abducted or worse.
A familiar road
Prior to joining the PGCB, Logan served as a commissioner of the Pennsylvania Turnpike from 2013-17 and was chair from January 2015 to February 2017.
Logan’s term on the PGCB was set to end in late 2022. In May 2022, Gov. Tom Wolf nominated Logan for an open board position on the PA Turnpike position. PA Senate unanimously confirmed the appointment in late June.
“There are issues at the Turnpike I am as passionate and emotional about and I’m looking forward to being back.”
Favorite Turnpike exit?
Logan: Monroeville. Exit 57. It means I’m coming home.
Lead image: Logan third from left. Photo c/o Sean Logan.