PA VGT Expansion Bill Faces Opposition by POM and Casinos

The gambling expansion proposed in Pennsylvania faces the opposition of the skill-based gaming and casino industry. The industries warn that if the bill is approved, there may be as many as 85,000 gaming machines in the state, which is more than five times the current number.

The Debate on Gambling Expansion in Pennsylvania Continues

The debate for introducing slot-like game terminals to bars, restaurants, and social clubs in Pennsylvania continues. Earlier this week, a Senate panel was conducted where legislators heard arguments by both supporters and opponents of the expansion. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman is the author of Senate Bill 1256, which proposes changes to state law, allowing video-gaming terminals (VGTs) in bars, taverns, and other establishments. But so far it looks like the bill is facing heavy opposition.

The chief administrative officer of Pace-O-Matic that manufactures skill gaming devices, Paul Goldean testified in opposition to the bill. According to him, the new bill would kill the skill gaming industry. Furthermore, Goldean stressed that the number of slot machines will dramatically increase and there will be a slot machine “in every business across the Commonwealth“.

We cannot and do not compete with VGTs or the slot machines in casinos,”

Paul Goldean,  Pace-O-Mati chief administrative officer

Moreover, Goldean noted that the bill is not a “VGT and skill games bill” but rather supports only VGTs. He outlined that the bill puts VGTs and skill games under one hat while at the same time calls them “hybrid video gaming terminals” and proposes taxation at the same rate. In conclusion, Goldean said the company supports the legal efforts to regulate the industry and provide additional tax revenue at a fair rate, but this needs to be based on the revenue which the games generate.

Pennsylvania Lottery Losing Revenue to Skill-Based Gaming Machines

In contrast, according to the Pennsylvania Lottery, skill-based gaming machines are taking revenue which otherwise would be spent on lottery tickets. An approximate of 28% of the locations that sell Lottery tickets also have skill gaming machines.

In his testimony, Lottery executive director Drew Svitko said: “Each day these machines are taking in money that would otherwise be directed to Pennsylvania Lottery games“. Furthermore, Svitko stressed that those are lost sales which otherwise could help generate funds for “critical senior programs and services that are funded by the Lottery“.

Casinos in Pennsylvania Oppose the Gambling Expansion Bill

The casinos in the state share a similar opinion of the bill with POM. In a statement, the casinos said that the gaming expansion will result in “substantial losses of gaming tax revenue for the state and revenue for the Lottery”. Moreover, the expansion will lead to job losses and will place hundreds of millions of annual investments at risk. According to the Pennsylvania casinos, the gaming expansion will not solve the budget deficit. The industry stressed that it is never a good time for the state to be flooded with slot machines.

Pennsylvania’s casinos added that although the casinos have reopened, currently the business volumes cannot be compared to the times before the pandemic. Another important point raised by the casino industry is that upon expanding the VGTs in the state, the number of gambling machines may go as high as 85,000. This is more than five times the current number of slot machines in all of Pennsylvania casinos combined, concluded the industry.

Although opinions about the gambling expansion in Pennsylvania greatly differ, this is yet another chapter in the legal hurdle. Keeping in mind that after the hearing, no official announcement outlined any plan of action, we can only wait and see how this situation will unravel.

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