The state of Pennsylvania has been trying for months now to come up with a solution for the state budget, a budget that is experiencing a shortfall of around $250 million. Several options have been presented by lawmakers but no decision has been made as of yet. The latest plan for filling the gap within the state budget involves the legalization of video poker, a plan that casino operators are none too happy about.
Casino operators in the state are worried that legalizing video poker will create more competition for their venues, on top of what is already coming via new casinos that are currently being constructed in states neighboring Pennsylvania.
There is currently a plan under consideration that would raise money for the state by allowing local taverns to install a maximum of five video lottery terminals per establishment. The devices would be very similar to the casino slot games offered by the state and the legislation proposed would allow as many as 85,000 of the terminals to be installed, according to Sean Sullivan, The Meadows General Manager.
Sullivan commented in the Daily Item, stating that the video terminals would destroy the casino industry and that given the number of tavern licenses that already exist, the large number of terminals could be brought into the gaming industry of the state.
Lawmakers on each side do agree that video poker legalization will not make a huge dent in the bottom line of the casinos which makes the idea to legalize the option an attractive one. The Governor of the state, Tom Wolf, has suggested increasing taxes to repair the budget, which is something lawmakers are not ready to do yet, and continue to try to find alternative options such as the video poker proposal.
The state has also considered allowing iGambling, with the idea that land based casinos could benefit by being involved in the online gambling industry. The option could be combined with video poker for maximum potential in earnings or neither will be considered. It seems lawmakers continue to go back and forth, offering ideas but have yet to put a solid plan in place.