Pennsylvania Considering Legalizing Video Gaming Terminals
Pennsylvania legislators have been looking for additional revenue sources in an attempt to pass their 2017-18 state budget. Gambling expansion has been one of the state’s considerations as they attempt to seek new revenue streams.
There is currently a bill going back-and-forth between the House and Senate proposing massive gambling reform in the state. While it doesn’t appear to be particularly close to being passed into law.
However, the bill contains provisions that would legalize Internet gambling as well as regulate daily fantasy sports. Those haven’t been the most popular aspects of the bill, but they also haven’t been the primary reason for the bill’s stalling.
The sticking point in the bill regards whether Pennsylvania should legalize video gaming terminals. The House has suggested that tens of thousands of VGTs at places like bars and truck stops should be installed around the state. That could potentially create up to $400 million in additional yearly revenue, per House lawmakers.
However, the Senate has been staunchly opposed. Of course, Senators are concerned that the legalization of such machines could lead to massive amounts of gambling addiction and increased risk of theft and other crime. Unfortunately, the opposition to installing VGTs could wind up being what brings the entire bill crashing down in the Pennsylvania state legislature.
Pennsylvania Senator Chuck McIlhinney said earlier in August that the state Senate will hold several hearings regarding the legalization of video gaming terminals in mid-September. The Senator said that the Senate should be appreciative of the House and its members for revealing that VGTs are already illegally present in Pennsylvania. McElhinney was responding to an article written by House Representative Mark Mustio last week.
Senator McIlhinney says Pennsylvania should prove to its residents that it is able to take care of the illegal operation of VGTs before considering legalizing and regulating them.
VGT opponents have additionally argued that, rather than adding a new source of revenue, the legalization of video gaming terminals would effectively cut into the revenue generated by the state’s existing land-based casinos. So, they believe that VGTs would just eat into another revenue source rather than generate an entirely new one. They do not want VGTs leading customers away from actual casinos.
Pennsylvania’s Governor, Tom Wolf, has not indicated which side of the issue he believes is correct. He hasn’t voiced his opinion regarding gambling legalization in any form to this point. However, he has said that he would only support legalization efforts that would add a new revenue stream to his state. So, the argument saying that VGTs will cannibalize revenue from local casinos could work to sway some crucial opinions, including that of Governor Wolf.
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