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Gaming Expansion Faces Division In The House

Mike Groll
In this Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014 photo, a woman plays a video lottery terminal at Tioga Downs, in Nichols, N.Y.

A bill to expand gambling and raise sorely-needed revenue is moving on to the House, after passing swiftly through the Senate last week.

Gaming has been a sticky issue for the legislature for several sessions, and the latest bill is expected to face pushback from several factions of House lawmakers.

The Senate-passed bill would chiefly legalize and regulate internet gambling. It would also let Pennsylvanians buy lottery tickets and bet on fantasy sports online, and fix a law that dictates how casinos pay out fees to their local communities.

House spokesman Steven Miskin noted, lawmakers in his chamber are still divided. Many want remote gaming terminals to be allowed in bars and taverns, for instance.

“There’s many different opinions on this,” Miskin said. “You have some of the members looking out to the tavern owners to basically legalize something that’s already happening.”

Opponents argue that would cut into traditional casinos’ profits. And others claim iGaming would do the same.

The new revenues from the expansions are expected to generate between $100 and $150 million for the state next year, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

It wouldn’t come in time to fill a $100 million gap in this year’s budget, which was intended to be filled with gaming revenue that never materialized. 

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