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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: April 21, 2021 10:13 AM
From: Representative Nick Pisciottano
To: All House members
Subject: Break Up Illegal Gambling & Prevent Animal Cruelty
Pennsylvania takes animal fighting seriously and the Commonwealth has had one of the toughest animal fighting laws in the country for many decades. However, enforcement of these laws is difficult and only 12 prosecutions were even attempted in 2019 and 2020 combined.
Animal fighting occurs adjacent to illegal gambling with purses running in the millions and similar sums devoted to breeding, training, and equipment used to facilitate animal fighting. Due to the large amount of money involved in animal fighting as a type of illegal gambling, perpetrators are well-funded, smart, and able to use the internet and coded language to mask their illegal practices. Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws are enforced primarily by nonprofit humane society police officers and rarely is there more than one operating in a county. Local law enforcement typically lacks the funding to undertake a deep and detailed investigation into illegal gambling that is required to enforce the law.
My legislation will add any violation of animal fighting law (Title 18 – Section 5543, 5544) to the definition of unlawful gambling which is currently restricted to only illegal use of gambling devices (Section 5513). As Pennsylvania gaming law already provides for a $2 million annual transfer to a special fund that provides law enforcement grants to combat unlawful gaming, this change will provide access to grants that can be used to fund the investigations necessary to break up illegal gambling rings and prevent the mistreatment of animals.
Please join me in supporting this legislation that will use existing gaming funds to help improve enforcement of illicit gambling and prevent animal cruelty.

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Introduced as HB1310