Pennsylvania Considers Video Poker Legislation Along With Online Gambling
By Bob Garcia
While lawmakers in Pennsylvania battle over online poker and casino games, another piece of gambling legislation appears to further complicate their decisions. A measure to legalize video gaming terminals (VGTs) is back again after last year’s failed attempt.
Representative Mark Mustio, the same who introduced the 2016 bill to regulate VGTs in Pennsylvania, is back again with HB1010 this year. The bill would legalize and regulate the terminals in a number of non-casino locations including truck stops, bars, and parimutuel betting parlors.
The biggest argument in support of the bill is that the terminals already exist. Musito and others in law enforcement say illegal VGTs are already wide-spread, bringing in plenty of gambling dollars. Unregulated and untaxed, the money from an estimated 40,000 illegal VGTs can be considered money the state is leaving on the table.
Despite the argument that the machines are already out there detracting from legal state gaming, opponents of the VGT legislation argue that the machines would cannibalize existing land-based casinos. Prospective online casino operators in the state are against VGT regulation as well, saying it would be bad for existing gambling in the rest of the state.
Mustio claims the regulated terminals would bring in as much as $500 million over the next five years. However, Representative Bryan Cutler disagrees. He says the gambling interests have historically over-estimated revenue projections leading legislators to come up short on state budget expectations.
“Every time we’ve counted on gambling in the budget those revenues have undershot,” Said Cutler in an interview with Landcaster Online.