Rolling the Dice with our State Budget

A measure now being considered to expand gaming in PA is meant to fill the state’s revenue gap, but Pam cautions that it could be a big gamble.

Over the past several years there have been a few attempts to expand gaming in the commonwealth.

No bill had made it successfully through both chambers to the Governor’s desk until HB271.

The revenue gap of over $1.5 billion was the impetus to craft a bill that could provide some recurring revenue for the state since so many of my colleagues are averse to considering raising any type of tax.  For example, the personal Income tax was last raised in 2004, and we still do not have a severance tax on Marcellus Shale.

HB271 is what I refer to as an “everything and the kitchen sink” bill.  Where previous bills addressed one, or maybe two, gaming topics, this legislation includes no less than seven different gaming-related expansions.  It’s not possible to cover all of the details in this article; if you want to learn more, please contact my office at 215-482-8726 or email me at RepDeLissio@pahouse.net.

Currently Pennsylvania does not regulate fantasy sports, although many of our citizens partake in these activities today.  Fantasy sports occurs online and, like the lottery, you only need to be 18 to play.

Interactive gaming (Igaming) permits casinos to conduct online gaming.  Igaming includes slots, poker and table games. The minimum age to play is 21.  Again, our citizens are currently participating in illegal Igaming and this will provide the state with an opportunity to ensure Igaming is conducted following certain rules and procedures that will safeguard citizens; and provide revenue for the state.

If you are leaving on a jet plane, and are either delayed or bored while waiting for your flight, you will now be able to participate in Igaming via a tablet at those airports that choose to participate.

Up to ten mini/satellite casinos will be permitted in Pennsylvania.  A municipality may adopt a resolution to prohibit a mini/satellite casino from being located in their municipality.  Such a resolution would need to be adopted no later than December 31, 2017.

Video gaming terminals (VGT) will now be permitted at truck stops only.  Truck stops are defined in the legislation and must meet all of six requirements; including volume of diesel sold, parcel size no less than three acres with no less than twenty parking spaces, have a convenience store and be equipped with a diesel island for fueling commercial vehicles and located on property not owned by the PA Turnpike.

Counties that currently have a casino have the opportunity to opt out by December 31, 2017 and therefore no VGT’s may be placed in that county. Philadelphia County has an opportunity to opt out of VGTs. I will be contacting my councilman urging Philadelphia to opt out and I recommend you contact your councilman with your thoughts on the matter.

Also, the Department of Revenue is now authorized to operate ilottery and Internet instant games.

It is anticipated that the proceeds from expanded gaming will contribute about $238,000,000 to the General Fund for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

I think that amount is a stretch and truly a ‘roll of the dice.’

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Representative Pamela A. DeLissio serves the 194th Legislative District, which includes East Falls.

 

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