A bill legalizing video poker will be introduced in the Pennsylvania House later this week, and hearings will begin in mid-April. When Governor Rendell announced a plan to legalize video poker to pay for tuition breaks at state-owned universities and community colleges in February, he asked lawmakers to pass the measure as quickly as possible.
It's taken nine weeks but now Democratic State Representative Dante Santoni of Berks County, the prime sponsor, will officially unveil the bill. Santoni says Rendell's time frame for passage isn't impossible, but hinted it's unlikely.
"We're going to be deliberate. We don't want to rush something through that's not going to work. We want to make sure we have all the facts, all the information, all the input as we travel the state. And make sure that we do it right, rather than fast."
Santoni says the Gaming Oversight Committee, which he chairs, will hold a series of hearings on the bill, beginning in mid-April. His measure puts the statewide video poker system under the purview of the Revenue Department, rather than the Gaming Control Board.
Santoni says that's because he agrees with Rendell's argument that legalizing the system in bars wouldn't be an expansion of gaming, since illegal machines are already prevalent in the state.