Amid Online Poker Discussions; VGTs now in the mix for Pennsylvania

The state of Pennsylvania has been discussing entering the online gambling industry for several years now. While progress has been made, we all seem to continue to ask the question, ‘Will Pennsylvania legalize online gambling?’ The state seems very close this year in passing online gambling legislation but other gaming expansion ideas seem to be getting in the way or at least slowing down iGaming efforts. Just this week, new legislation was presented that would allow video gambling terminals to be placed in bars, taverns, and pari-mutuels across the state.

The new measure, House Bill No 110, would provide such venues with the ability to offer VGT gaming. This would be an expansion of slot machine gaming outside of the state’s twelve casinos which is something that many seem to be against. The VGT plan is nothing new and has been quite controversial in the past. Online gaming and slot machine expansion were discussed last year with no movement in legislation due to no support for VGT gaming.

Police of Pennsylvania have estimated that as many as 40,000 VGTs are in operation illegally in the state. The machines are operating with no licensing, tax or regulation in place. In a recent news conference, Senator Guy Reschenthaler stated that VGTs need to be legalized in order to see the industry of VGT gaming come out of the shadows.

A hearing took place this past Tuesday among state officials to discuss video gaming terminals with a hearing earlier this month discussing the issue of online poker gaming. Lawmakers are considering both options as well as having to come up with a solution for the local share tax for gaming venues.

Representative Mark Mustio is a sponsor of the bill who also was involved in efforts to see VGTs added to the state in 2016. Those in support of VGT gaming have pointed out that Illinois was able to begin offering these gaming terminals five years ago and in 2016, the machines provided more than $330 million in tax revenues for the state.

Critics of VGTs are worried that the machines will cannibalize the existing land-based casinos located in the state.

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