House Bill 271 passed the Pennsylvania House by a vote of 109 to 72. The bill expands gambling with the hopes of filling the gap in budget revenues.
Representative Dave Reed of Indiana County says this expansion will help eliminate illegal gambling and in turn, keep revenues in Pennsylvania. He explained,”I don’t think there is anything in this gaming bill that’s not already happening in Pennsylvania. Where you look at the ancillary sites, we already have 10 casinos in the state. You look at the i-gaming, everybody can go to their smart phones right now and go to an international site but now we can get some actual revenue in the state.”
This bill will allow up to 10 mini casinos to be built accross the state and each will require liscensing fees to be paid to the state. The state will also introduce online gambling and allow video gaming terminals in truck stops and airports.
Representative Frank Burns voted against the bill. He says it should have allowed vgts in local bars and restaurants. He explained, “The profits of these corporations are going somewhere else. Where if we allowed the small mom and pops taverns and the clubs in our area to make that money, they are the ones sponsoring our little league teams, they are the ones sponsoring our high schools.”
Burns also believes the online component could be dangerous — a possible gateway to an addiction. He said, “Who is there to say ‘you need to slow down’? They’ll just be sitting up all night gambling. I just can’t believe we’ve allowed this to happen.”
Governor Tom Wolf has given no indication on whether or not he supports this expansion. It’s be up to him to sign, veto, or just allow the bill to become law.