On Tuesday, October 6, the Pennsylvania Senate’s Community, Economic and Recreational Development Commitment held a hearing on a proposed bill that seeks to legalize and tax video gaming terminals (VGTs) and “skill” machines in bars and clubs with liquor license across the state. During the event, the committee heard from a total of 15 different presenters all of whom hard some rather divergent views on the proposed bill.
SB 1256, the measure in question, is sponsored by Senator Majority Leader Jake Corman. He believes that by legalizing the VGTs and skill machines, the state can unlock yet another revenue stream, something that is undoubtedly very important especially considering all of the efforts being put into recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the idea is certainly justifiable, the chances of the bill getting passed is not guaranteed thanks to resistance from some of the stakeholders in the state’s gambling industry. The state’s casinos and the lottery are leading in the opposition of the bill.
A Unifying Factor
While the state’s casino operators and the lottery have always been engaged in fierce competition, opposing the proposed expansion bill has brought them together. During the Tuesday hearing, three executives and a lawyer representing different casinos in the state offered their testimony further affirming their thoughts on the issue.
The Keystone State’s casino operators consider any sort of further expansion of the gambling sector to be unfair. Already, there are a number of ongoing developments that are yet to be implemented in the state’s gaming sector, and adding something else might shift the market in unprecedented ways.
These casino operators are, however, not the only ones that are opposed to the proposed expansion. Governor Wolf’s administration and the state’ conservative lawmakers are also of the opinion that Pennsylvania already has enough of legalized gambling activities.
Pace-O-Matic (POM), a company that manufactures and distributed skill games is also opposed to the expansion bill. While it is open to some sort of oversight, SB 1256 does not sit well with POM because they believe that the bill will “kill the skill game industry and dramatically put slot machines in every business across the Commonwealth.”
VGTs and the so-called “skill” machines have been largely operating in a legal grey area in the state. This has brought them under a lot of scrutiny and even potential bans. Many of the bar and club owners have admitted that the machines are vital components of their businesses and their removal would be devastating.
All things considered, it seems like all that is needed now is some sort of compromise to ensure that everyone’s opinions are addressed.