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Pennsylvania's Online Gambling Bill Runs Into an Old ProblemPublished March 27, 2017 by Elana K
Pennsylvania's proposed online gambling bill has run into an old problem: VGTs, video gaming terminals, the issue that almost single-handedly derailed the state’s online gambling initiative last year.
Over the past few months, it seemed like Pennsylvania had been making great strides toward legalizing online gambling, with one of its main selling points being the possibility to cushion the state’s budget deficit. Yes, the issue of taxes is still being debated - how much, the differential between land-based and online gambling, and more. Now, however, the proposed online gambling bill has run into an additional problem, albeit an old one: VGTs, video gaming terminals, the issue that almost single-handedly derailed the state’s online gambling initiative last year.
Now, however, the proposed online gambling bill has run into another problem, albeit an old one: VGTs, video gaming terminals, the issue that almost single-handedly derailed the state’s online gambling initiative last year.
Recent History of VGTs
Last year, two nearly-identical bills were introduced to the House of Representatives. Both were initially voted against because of some apparent confusion regarding the two. One of the bills allowed VGTs to exist at licensed bars and taverns, the other did not. Ultimately, the House held a re-vote and voted in favor of the bill that did not allow VGTs, but then neither bill ended up being passed.
Most Casinos Oppose VGTs
In the joint hearing of the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee and the Senate Community on March 7, four out of five casinos voiced their opposition to VGTs (the fifth didn’t address the issue). Eric Pearson, CEO of Valley Forge Casino Resort, expressed succinctly why his casino opposes VGTs: “VGTs put the health and well-being of Pennsylvania’s gaming industry at risk.”
The Argument in Favor of VGTs
Proponents of VGTs argue that there already exist an estimated 40,000 illegal VGT machines, and they have not cannibalized the casino industry so far. A bill that allows VGTs would just be legalizing the ones that already exist, and making profit for the state along the way.
While arguments exist both in favor and against, one thing is certain: If an agreement is not reached, Pennsylvania will experience a bout of deja vu - the issue of VGTs once again ruining the chances for state-regulated online gambling.