Pennsylvania House Shoots Down Online Gambling

Pennsylvania 2If baby needs a new pair of shoes, you’re still going to have to try to win the money for them in a Pennsylvania casino or the nightly state Lottery drawing.

The House on Tuesday rejected separate amendments that would have drastically expanded when, where and how adults could wager in the state.

Both amendments would have legalized online gambling and fantasy sports, provided the activities were run by the state’s licensed casinos.

The first amendment failed 122-66. It would have allowed video game slot machines at taverns, bars, social clubs and volunteer fire halls.

The second bill — rejected 107-81 — would have allowed slots at airport terminals and off-track horse betting sites.

For months, the Republicans who control the House and Senate had supported expanded gambling as the best way to raise needed state tax revenue instead of the tax increases sought by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

This being an election year, Republicans and many Democrats will not vote to raise sales or personal income taxes, which are key to Wolf’s budget proposal. Nor do many lawmakers want to cut programs or services.

None of the expanded gambling options would have closed the state’s $1 billion-plus deficit. But they would have helped with negotiations.

Now, all sides are going to have to come up with a revised gaming package that passes muster with lawmakers and special interests — or find another way to close the state’s funding gap in the 2016-17 fiscal year that starts July 1.

The state’s 12 licensed casinos are split on whether to legalize online gambling. Some — like Mohegan Sun Casino, outside Wilkes-Barre — support it. Others — like Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem — oppose it. All casinos are united in their rejection of more slot machines, fearing it will cannibalize the business.

More at Morning Call

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