A short time after a plan to allow video gaming terminals (VGT) in bars crashed and burned in the Pennsylvania House on Wednesday, a proposal to make online gambling legal and allow the machines in the state’s off-track betting sites and airports was given preliminary approval.
Coming on what should be the final stretch of annual budget negotiations, earlier on Wednesday, House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, said that he believes in order for the budget process to be complete, money from some form of gaming expansion is necessary, as reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. According to Reed, approximately $400 million would be generated by the initial proposal, about half of which would come from the VGTs.
At the same time, opponents expressed their concerns on the House Floor about the machines and that their widespread availability would erode revenue from the state’s lottery and casinos. The amendment to Rep. George Dunbar’s HB 2150 (pdf) daily fantasy sports bill, A08621, which contained authorization for VGTs in bars, was defeated by the House.
After a brief recess for private meetings, the chamber returned and by a 115 to 80 margin, approved Rep. Rosita Youngblood’s A08734. The vote, however, is preliminary and in order for the legislation to be passed along to the Senate, it will require a second vote by the House.
With the July 1 start of the state’s next fiscal year fast approaching, there have been no indications that the Legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration are close to a deal on the budget. While the day before, the governor distanced himself from past requests of his for increases in sales and personal income taxes, his administration says there still remains a $1 billion shortfall that needs to be reconciled.
Mirroring laws that have been passed in other states such as New Jersey, the measure would allow casino’s licensed in Pennsylvania to take online wagers from the state’s gamblers.