Video Gaming Terminal Bill Introduced in Pennsylvania

by Jim Hall

Representative Anthony DeLuca, PennsylvaniaRepresentative Anthony DeLuca has introduced a new bill to authorize VGTs in non-profit clubs located in Pennsylvania.

Gaming expansions of all kinds have been considered in the state of Pennsylvania over the past year. Lawmakers have made several suggestions as to how the gambling industry can expand to bring in much needed revenues for the state however, no proposed legislation has been able to pass muster. A new try is in the works as Representative Anthony DeLuca has introduced new legislation that will authorize a specific number of video gaming terminals for non-profit clubs located in the state.

Standalone Measure

While many lawmakers have tried to pass legislation that covers a wide range of gambling topics, DeLuca’s attempt focuses solely on the VGTs. HB 469 would authorize the gaming option to take place in non-profit clubs as a single expansion in the industry. However, the bill can be rolled into a much larger package for gaming reform that was introduced in the state just last week, with HB 392. This would only happen though if the House of Representatives were able to provide enough support for the measure.

According to gaming analysts however, the bill could be a problem for daily fantasy sports as well as online gambling legalization in the future.

What is HB 469?

The bill submitted by DeLuca is similar to a proposal for the same type of gaming from 2016. The club, the operator of the gaming terminal and the state would all get a cut of the revenues, an even amount. This was what both measures have provided. However, there is one difference. With DeLuca’s bill, only clubs like the VFW would be allowed to use the games.

In a co-sponsorship memoranda for the measure written by DeLuca last month, it states that it is imperative that the state be able to strike a delicate balance between closing the revenue gap while acknowledging the mutually beneficial arrangement that the gaming industry can provide and supporting clubs and organizations that give back to the community. DeLuca feels that if video gaming machines are limited to the nonprofit clubs that are defined in the Liquor Code, they will be able to reach his goal.

Issues Last Year

The summer of 2016 saw the House of Representatives in the state pass a gaming reform bill that would have legalized several aspects of gaming including DFS and online casino gambling. At the same time, a group of lawmakers were pushing to see another bill move forward that would include VGTs being allowed in social clubs and taverns. This issue nearly made it impossible for the measure to be passed in the house. Lawmakers were confused as to which bill would allow for VGTs and which would not. A vote took place but both were voted down.

Later on a new vote took place and the measure that did not include VGTs moved forward but was unable to gain support in the Senate. So now, it begs the question as to if the video gaming terminals even have a chance to pass into law or perhaps they will now that it is a standalone measure?

The Senate has been strongly opposed to VGTs for some time as they are considered cannibalistic. So the most likely scenario is that the new bill by DeLuca will be shot down before it can even begin to gain any momentum. We shall wait and see what legislature decides and add this bill to the many measures and topics being discussed in the state as lawmakers look for some way to meet budget shortfalls.