Legislation in Pennsylvania that would legalize tens of thousands of video gaming terminals in taverns and bars across the state has seen heavy opposition from casino operators and Horsemen’s groups.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly is currently considering the gambling expansion in tandem with state budget negotiations. Also a part of legislation talks are airport slot machines, Internet gambling, and off-track betting parlors.
Revenue shares from 12 state casino slot machines are currently distributed to purses and breed development. The Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund last year totaled over $243 million, according to stats provided by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Placing video game terminals in taverns and bars would lead to a reduction of 25-30 percent in revenue for Horsemen’s groups.
“This legislation would provide VGT companies a third of all revenues generated by the new machines, taking money out of the pockets of property owners, the local horse racing industry, its employees, and the farmers who depend on it,” said the Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association in a statement.
Their statement continued:
“Statewide, gaming has generated billions of dollars in property tax relief, and the horseracing industry has created 23,000 jobs and invested over $200 million in goods and services in farms and other businesses. All of this would be in jeopardy if this legislation is passed to create thousands of VGT mini-casinos that would literally pop up on countless street corners across Pennsylvania.”
“If some legislators have their way, they’ll expand gaming practically everywhere to include liquor establishments, fire halls, truck stops, video gaming terminals in taverns, and more,” said the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association. “There’s even a plan to allow for Internet gaming at a much lower tax rate. That means casinos with racetracks are more likely to market Internet gaming at the expense of our racetracks.”
One person who disagrees the legislation is bad is the lawmaker who is trying to get the bill passed: Rep. Mark Mustio.
“We are here to say that diversification is needed because Pennsylvania’s brick and mortar casinos are leaving too much of the market untapped,” said Mustio. “At the state level, legalizing VGTs translates into $400 million in tax and fee revenue for the general fund that is otherwise left on the table every year. To look at this another way, Pennsylvania has missed out on an additional $4 billion in general fund revenue over the past decade.”