Thursday, September 17, 2009

Senate Committee Looks at Table Games in PA

Lawmakers are examining table games as a possible revenue source to help balance a budget for the current fiscal year.
Supporters of adding poker, blackjack and the like to Pennsylvania's gambling mix say the state could realize 200-million dollars in the coming year -- most of it from licensing fees.
Among those with concerns is Republican Senator Jane Orie of Allegheny County, who says promises were made that table games would not

"I feel a lot of us are being compromised on that position and this process is moving just like the old process: very quickly, and I would disagree strongly with the transparency."

But backers say table games are a viable source of revenue at a time when the state needs it most. State Gaming Control Board Chairman Gregory Fajt says,with the right appropriations, they can be effectively controlled...

"The board stands ready to implement and strictly regulate table games if this General Assembly adopts them."

Some critics, like Senator Don White of Indiana County, worry that table games could steal business from slot machines,therefore hurting property tax relief...

"As a licensee, I think I would do all I could to enhance maybe some high-rolling slot players to move over to gaming. I mean, that just makes business sense."

State Gaming Control Board Executive Director Kevin O'Toole says slot players won't stray far other than some "initial crossover"...

"But if you enjoy slot machines, you're not going to go over and play blackjack. It's a fundamentally different risk-benefit analysis that people go through in their own minds when they decide what they enjoy to do at a casino."

O'Toole adds regulators would support wording to ensure that each casino maintain a certain number or ratio of slot machines as compared to gaming tables. The rate at which the new games would be taxed is still being negotiated, but it's currently ranging from 12 to 21 percent. Slots are taxed at 55 percent.

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