Table games on Pennsylvania agenda

Jun 30, 2009 5:05 PM
by Ray Poirier | While other states debate whether to expand gambling as a means of generating additional tax dollars, Pennsylvania has begun collecting revenue generated by slot machines at eight slot facilities.

Now, some lawmakers believe, it’s time to expand that gaming by legalizing table games, a move that not only will generate an additional $300 million but also would create jobs at a time when the shrinking economy has forced a near-record number of layoffs.

Operators of the slot-machine casinos have been lobbying in favor of expanding the properties to include table games, provided the tax on such gambling permits the casinos to be competitive with the more elaborate casinos in Atlantic City. They would prefer a tax of about nine percent.

That’s hardly going to happen, say politicians. More likely, a table games bill will require properties to pay a $10 million license fee, while the tax on such revenues will be about 21 percent. They point out that the 21 percent would be half-way between what the operators want and the 35 percent that is paid by casinos in West Virginia.

A licensing bill has already been introduced in the House and a similar piece of legislation is expected to be introduced in the Senate shortly. Supporters are hoping for quick action in order that potential revenue could have some impact of the fiscal budget that begins on July 1.

Expanded gambling has recently been defeated in New Hampshire, Kentucky and Illinois. Also, it’s expected that a slots bill will fail in Ohio.