Problems Remain In Passing iGaming Legislation in Pennsylvania

by Kyle Miller

Legislators still cannot decide on legislation to pass that will repair the Pennsylvania state budget and expand on the gambling industry.

For years now, the state of Pennsylvania has been considered the next in line to join New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada in offering online gaming for real money in the US. However, the state continues to fail when it comes to passing legislation. This year, the state seemed a shoe-in to be the next to offer online casino and poker gaming but issues have arisen. From the tax levy problem to several areas being considered for gaming expansion, legislators cannot seem to come to an agreement as to what and how gambling should take place in the state.

At A Standstill

Pennsylvania is seemingly at a standstill when it comes to the budget and gaming expansion. Republican lawmakers are tasked with trying to fix the budget shortfall and gambling has been considered a way in which the state can recover. However, lawmakers are not in agreement as to how much gambling should actually be legalized.

Today is the fourth to last day of the current fiscal year. Leaders in the House and Senate on the republican side hold the majority and continue to stay behind closed doors and are trying desperately to come to a compromise on spending and revenue planning. Gambling is a key component that would help bring about a ton of cash that would help the budget. However, it cannot be decided upon as to how this should be done.

Jake CormanSenate Majority Leader Jake Corman has stated that republican leaders in the House will not agree to sign off on gambling legislation unless slot machine style video gambling is allowed in bars and truck stops, plus facilities that have a liquor license.

The Senate is in approval of a proposal that will allow for online casino gaming as well as for the lottery to go online. However, Corman has stated that he cannot find enough support in the Senate for a compromise gambling bill to pass, one that includes gambling for bars and taverns. Up for discussion is also allowing such gaming to take place only in bars that are located in counties where there is not a casino, so as to not harm the land-based gaming industry.

For and Against

When it comes to the video gambling machines, those who are in favor feel that the gaming option will create hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues for the local and state governments. Small businesses will benefit and the casinos will not be the only earner in the gambling industry. The state is already the number two earner in the United States when it comes to gaming so more should create even more benefits for the state.

The issue of VGTs has been heavily lobbied in the state with those in favor providing campaign contributions to the republican party in order to hopefully see the gaming option come to fruition. Most casinos are not in approval of the option except for Penn National Gaming who operates the Hollywood casino in Harrisburg and owns a video gambling machine business.

The governor of the state, Tom Wolf, has already said that $250 million will be contributed to the state by way of gambling expansion, yet nothing has happened yet to see additional gaming options made available. According to the Department of Revenue, additional gambling in new locations could create revenue losses and the state may take a hit. The department also stated that setting up the gaming in bars and taverns could take a great deal of time, possible a year or longer.