Wednesday, January 6, 2010
A bill legalizing table games in Pennsylvania’s casinos is one House vote away from heading to Governor Rendell’s desk.
After twenty-five minutes of debate the Senate voted 28-22 last night to approve an amended version of a bill bringing blackjack, poker, roulette and other games to Pennsylvania’s casinos.
The measure started the day in the House, which voted not to concur on changes the Senate had made in December.
It then headed to a joint conference committee, where Chester County Republican Curt Schroder, the panel’s lone no vote, lamented the fact it would allow casinos to grant interest-free unsecured loans to gamblers.
"In light of studies that show that a high percentage of gambling proceeds comes on the back of compulsive gamblers and those who have a problem, I think this provision is particularly problematic."
The measure sets a 16 percent tax on table game profits, and would charge a 16.5 million dollar licensing fee to large casinos, and 7.5 million dollars to resort casinos seeking tables.
House Majority Leader Todd Eachus says he’s confident he has the votes to pass the bill.
"There are very few changes in this bill that reflect a significant sea change. The leadership has signed off on this bill. The chairman of this committee has worked tirelessly to make sure that we’ve had two public hearings on this process. We’ve had long debates on the House floor. I think that our House membership is ready to move and take action tomorrow."
Governor Rendell has threatened to layoff up to 1,000 state workers unless a bill is headed to his desk by Friday. The current budget counts on $200 million in licensing fees for the table games.
Photo: House Democratic Leader Todd Eachus signing off on Conference Committee measure