VGTs Slowing Down Gambling Expansion in Pennsylvania

by Kyle Miller

VGTAccording to one state senator, it is the element of VGTs that is slowing down the progression of gambling expansion in the state of Pennsylvania rather than online gambling.

Online gambling continues to be a hot topic of debate across the United States. Several states are currently considering legislation to be proposed or already have bills on the table for consideration. Only Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey currently offer online gambling in some form of fashion and other states like Pennsylvania have been considering getting involved as well. For Pennsylvania, the struggle has been real as the state is trying to expand their gaming industry in several areas including the consideration of online gambling, video gaming terminals, airport gaming and more. The state has been delayed in seeing any movement of legislation and one state senator is staying online gambling is not to blame, but VGTs are.

What’s the Hold up?

If you have followed Pennsylvania’s progress to pass a bill that will offer online gambling, then you know the process has been slow going. The state has been unable to see a measure turned into law, despite the fact that the budget calls for hundreds of millions of dollars to come from gambling expansion, including online gaming.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa has commented on the gambling expansion of the state, speaking to Online Poker Report and stating that many meetings have taken place over the past few days in regards to finding a solution for the differences that lie in the House and Senate in relation to the overall gaming proposal on the table. According to Costa, the conversations are set to continue and legislators are hopeful that they will be able to reach a consensus before the legislative session ends on June 30th.

Video Gaming Terminals are the Bigger Issue

While many felt that legislation was not passing due to online gambling, it seems to be that video gaming terminals are the problem. H 271 has been amended by the House to include video gaming terminals, also known as VGTs. Private taverns and other establishments would be able to provide such gaming machines that would offer video poker and slots gaming. A tax rate and fee structure were created to make online gambling successful.

According to Costa, video gaming terminals are an issue that many members of the Senate are opposed to and this has caused a roadblock when it comes to reaching a consensus among legislators. Costa further stated that the tax rate, which has also been an issue, has not been discussed at length due to the focus on video gaming terminals.

Costa told Online Poker Report that the bigger issue at play now is what role will VGTs play and whether or not VGTs should be in the mix. If they are, what tax rate should be set in the future? If the VGT issue can be solved, Costa feels that the next level of issues will then need to be addressed, which of course will take time.

Fear of New Gaming Machines

Those opposed to the VGTs are fearful that the gambling machines will harm the casinos in the state. If players can visit the local bar to gamble, why would they visit the casinos? Because of this thought, senators who are from districts with casinos are vehemently opposed to such gaming options. Others feel that VGTs are too big of an expansion and it will make gambling widespread throughout the state.

So it seems VGTs have become the new point of contention in the state. Legislators have only a few days to come to a decision on the gambling expansion and if nothing is decided, the state will miss out on much needed revenues as projected in the state budget.