Health Care

Governor expects revenue from gambling expansion

Governor expects revenue from gambling expansion”

With government leaders searching for money to plug holes in the state's tattered finances, Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday signed legislation authorizing a major expansion of gambling.

The news service reported that Wolf, who became the 47th Governor of Pennsylvania in January of 2015, has not historically been a big backer of expanding gambling but nevertheless saw it as a better alternative to raising taxes in order to help balance the state's floundering budget. The Democrat purportedly declared that "we do need some recurring revenue" and that there had been "a lot of pressure from a lot of places" to pass the measure.

"Again, the goal has been all along to do what's prudent, not cannibalise existing gambling revenue coming to the state, and I think what we're settling on will actually do that".

Pennsylvania plans to tax online slots at a rate of 54% while internet table games and poker face a rate of 16%.

The Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in East Hanover Township, Dauphin County, is one of three properties that's part of Penn National Gaming's portfolio in the state; it also owns Off-Track Wagering facilities in York and Lancaster. Only Nevada and Puerto Rico now allow airport gambling.

The legislation was years in the making, and the compromise came together after House leaders dropped their long-standing demand that a gambling expansion favor bars and other liquor licensees, rather than casino owners.

The state lottery will now also be able to sell tickets online, while the bill opens up the potential for daily fantasy sports operators to begin offering services in Pennsylvania, should Congress give clearance to such activities on a national scale.

More specifically, the Hollywood Casino - which is about 14 miles east of Harrisburg along Interstate 81 and employs just over 1,000 - had gross revenue of $36.1 million of table games revenue and $209.6 million in slot machine revenue in the last fiscal year, according to PGCB figures.

Pennsylvania has the second largest commercial gambling market in the nation, as gamblers lose more than $3 billion at its casinos each year.

However, opponents to the bill say it was passed too quickly, with many protesting that they barely had a chance to read it, and warning that it carried unforeseen consequences and contained a number of sweetheart deals for casinos.

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