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Some state lawmakers went on Wyoming rodeo trip paid for by skills games company

Matt Rourke

On today’s episode of The Confluence:

Skill games lobby invite state lawmakers on trip to Wyoming 
(0:00 - 6:56)

State lawmakers are considering whether to formally recognize skill games, slot-like machines, in the commonwealth. Amid the discussion, skill-games maker, Pace-O-Matic, invited five lawmakers to take a trip to Wyoming this summer where they visited concerts and a rodeo.

While the makers of skill games lobby for more clear regulations around their machines, casinos and other gambling companies argue that the state’s gambling scene is already oversaturated and fear that these skill games will cut into their profits.

Angela Couloumbis, an investigative reporter for Spotlight, spoke with state Rep. Sue Helm (R-Dauphin) about why she went on this all-expenses-paid trip.

“She said she primarily went for the educational experience, but she also did acknowledge that for airfare, her hotel and meals were paid for by Pace-O-Matic and also while there she attended a couple of rodeo concerts,” says Couloumbis.

Two lawmakers told Spotlight they reimbursed the company for their expenses. A political action committee associated with skill games has contributed about $1.2 million to elected officials since 2019.

Poverty rose slightly in 2021, compared to 2019
(7:01 - 14:58)

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau found that the poverty rate in Pittsburgh increased by 5% compared to two years earlier. That means right now, 1 in 5 residents of the city is living in poverty.

“If you do grow up in a family in poverty, you're more likely to be exposed to higher levels of stress, more instability, potentially living in a neighborhood that has more crime and violence, schools that have less resources,” says Anita Zuberi, associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Duquesne University.

Zuberi says the Census data in question is measuring family income, and does not assess the impact of one-time payments like the stimulus checks or expanded child tax credit.

Pittsburgh is hosting its first Architecture Week 
(15:03 - 22:30)

Pittsburgh will host the city’s first Architecture Week. The event, hosted by the local chapter of American Institute of Architects, will discuss the city’s “built environment” and the different ways in which architecture affects daily life.

“Buildings are not neutral,” says Michelle Fanzo, executive director of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. “Everything that's designed and created from a structural point of view has an impact on how people feel, and that's because light and color and spatial relations impact the way our brain perceives space.”

Pittsburgh Architecture week begins Monday, Sept. 26 and ends Sunday, Oct. 2.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

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