PA Governor Release Budget Proposal with Extended Gambling

by Kyle Miller

Tom WolfGovernor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania releases new budget proposal to include $250,000,000 in new revenues from gambling.

Last year, the state of Pennsylvania saw major discussions take place in regards to online gambling as well as the overall gaming industry. One big issue for the state in 2016 was the budget. It was proposed that $100 million would be dedicated to the state from online gambling, yet no legislation had been created to provide the industry in the state. Now it seems Governor Tom Wolf is working on his promise, this time upping the ante and offering up an estimated $250,000,000 in new revenue for the state by way of gambling within the next year and a half.

What Does This Mean Exactly?

Governor Tom Wolf released information in regards to his budget proposal with the amazing amount included. It would be assumed that a portion of the revenues would come from online gambling legislation. Wolf stood before the state General Assembly on Tuesday discussing his budget plan in detail. In his prepared remarks, he did not mention gambling or casinos.

However, the subject was mentioned during the executive brief of the budget. In the budget, it stated that legislature was committed to enacting a proposal for gaming expansion that would create $100 million for the current fiscal year. This was for the 2016-17 agreement. Now for 2017-18 budget, an additional $150 million in revenues will be generated for the budget year by way of gaming expansion.

Wolf would not comment on where the money would come from but in the proposal it stated that a specific proposal for expansion has not been provided and that the revenues are assumed within the current ideas that are being discussed.

Online Gambling Has to Be Included

One could assume that with the large amount of money estimated, that online gambling would have to be included in an expansion. The office of the governor actually alluded to several possibilities for expansion in the gaming industry of the state. Measures are currently on the table that would allow for video lottery terminals to be placed in private establishments as well as slots to be placed at tracks, airports and off-track betting parlors. Land based casinos may also see an increase in current tax amounts.

However, the majority of revenues promised would have to come from online gambling. Even if the governor is not going to say online gambling per say, one could assume that it is part of the equation due to the monetary estimates plus the fact that legislators have been discussing online gambling for several years now and the state is at the forefront of iGambling efforts.

After the budget was introduced the republicans of the state would take a look at what to do in regards to the budget presented. The republicans are currently in control of both houses within the General Assembly. It is unclear as to how the lawmakers will respond to the proposal.

What we do know is that something needs to be done to help the state’s budget which will actually see a $3 billion shortfall if it continues at the current rate. For now, gambling expansion seems to be the correct route in which to take to see quick funds be provided to the state’s coffers. There are a minimum of three bills right now under consideration that will provide some form of gambling expansion to the state. It will be interesting to see how the gaming industry moves forward in the future and if Pennsylvania will finally pass legislation to see online gambling come to fruition.