State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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It'll take at least a year to enact PA's new gambling expansion

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Nov 7, 2017 5:38 AM
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Instead of raising taxes, lawmakers turned to gambling to help fill a budget hole. (Photo by AP)

 

(Harrisburg) - Pennsylvania is starting the lengthy process of making far-reaching expansions to its gambling industry.

Among the law's major provisions are legalization of video gaming terminals--or VGTs--in truck stops, and licensing of 10 new miniature casinos.

Counties can opt not to allow VGTs, and municipalities can do the same for mini-casinos.

State Gaming Control Board Spokesman Doug Harbach said those moves have to happen by December 29 and 31, respectively, but they haven't heard from anyone yet.

"These government bodies will be working with their solicitors to look at the language and then making some decisions in the near future," he predicted.

The number of counties and municipalities that opt out of the expansion will help determine how much revenue the state gets.

In the budget they passed recently, lawmakers banked on making $200 million dollars through gambling--an estimate some say is too high.

Enacting the expansion will involve auctioning off casino licenses--something the board has never done before.

Casinos currently operating in the state will get first dibs, and then the bidding will open to outside casinos if all 10 aren't awarded.

Spokesman Doug Harbach said the entire process will take a while.

"It's impossible to put any timetable right now on all of this," he said. "But suffice it to say, it's going to take months, and in some cases, closer to a year on some of them to try and get everything out."

The board has monthly meetings scheduled this week, but Harbach said it's too soon to start discussing gambling specifics.

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

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