Casinos

Online Gambling Petitions Are Rolling In Ahead Of Pennsylvania's Deadline

Jul 16, 2018
Wayne Parry / AP

Applications to operate casino-style gambling online in Pennsylvania were rolling in ahead of Monday's deadline for the state's casino owners to get a license at a discounted rate of $10 million.

The deadline arrived as Pennsylvania is in the midst of an aggressive gambling expansion as the state scrounges for cash to shore up its treasury.

Under a law signed late last year by Gov. Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania became the fourth state to legalize online casino gambling, joining Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.

Heather Ainsworth / AP

In their final week of annual budget hearings, state lawmakers are trying to evaluate how last year’s sweeping gambling overhaul—designed to balance a shaky revenue plan—is affecting state finances.

 

The introduction of a new class of mini-casinos and remote video gaming terminals is the biggest expansion Pennsylvania’s gambling industry has seen since it was legalized well over a decade ago.

 

Heather Ainsworth / AP

The commonwealth’s gambling industry is midway through a significant shift, with bidding currently underway for existing casinos to acquire newly-legal satellite locations.

 

The process is already raking in more money than lawmakers anticipated; but not everything is going off without a hitch.

 

The most recent bidding process had to be completely restarted after a casino misjudged the state’s placement requirements.

 

Heather Ainsworth / AP

To date, Pennsylvania is earning significantly more money than expected from bids on its new mini-casino licenses.

Two winning bids have been submitted so far.

Penn National spent just over $50 million to develop a spot in York County two weeks ago — and Stadium Casino LLC followed this week with a more-than $40 million bid to build in Westmoreland County.

With eight bids to go, the state has already made $90 million of the $100 million it earmarked in the state budget.

Heather Ainsworth / AP

About 40 percent of Pennsylvania's municipalities are banning a new mini-casino allowed under a two-month-old state law expanding casino-style gambling.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said Thursday that the list of 1,017 municipalities is final now that Sunday's deadline passed for municipalities inform the agency.

Diego Torres Silvestre / flickr

A Moody’s credit rating agency report shows Pennsylvania’s recent gambling expansion may not be that great for casinos, and could run the risk of making the commonwealth less attractive to the industry. 

Midstate Communities Weigh Whether To Allow New Mini-Casinos

Nov 3, 2017
LetNoun / flickr

The state's new gambling expansion law is already triggering debate in communities across the commonwealth about whether they should try luring one of 10 new mini-casinos allowed under the law, or ban them.

Governor OKs Online Gambling, More Casinos In Pennsylvania

Oct 30, 2017
Julie Jacobson / AP, file

Pennsylvania's governor has approved legislation authorizing a major expansion of gambling in what's already the nation's second-largest commercial casino state.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said Monday he's signed a bill that will make the state the fourth to allow online gambling. The measure also will allow the state's current 10 casinos to apply for the right to operate satellite casinos and put video gambling terminals inside truck stops. It also would allow gambling parlors in airports.

Heather Ainsworth / AP

As lawmakers try to negotiate a budget that’ll pass the House, Senate, and Governor, plus fill a $2 billion funding gap, they’re also grappling with another issue.

Nearly a year ago, the State Supreme Court declared that a law governing how casinos pay fees to their host municipalities was unconstitutional, and gave lawmakers an ultimatum: fix the law, or it’ll be invalidated.

Today, it’s still not fixed. And that’s losing some towns money.

Communities With Casinos In Pennsylvania Concerned About Possible Funding Changes

Mar 27, 2017
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

When playing the slots in Pennsylvania, casinos and gamblers aren't the only ones making money.

The state collects 54 cents for every dollar a player loses in a slot machine.

The state uses most of that money, about 34 cents, for reducing property taxes. The state's horse racing industry gets 11 cents and 5 cents goes to a state economic development trust fund. The remaining 4 cents is split among the communities that host the casino.

Wayne Parry / AP

Pennsylvania’s current budget has a $100 million hole state lawmakers intended to fill with some kind of gaming revenue.

That money never came through.

Even so, Gov. Tom Wolf’s spending plan for next fiscal year optimistically calls for $150 million to be filled with even more unspecified gaming money, and lawmakers don’t seem close to a consensus on what to do. 

The gaming conversation at the Capitol often revolves around whether to legalize and tax online gambling.

Matt Rourke / AP

The 2017 legislative session has yet to begin, but some lawmakers are already making plans for the new year, and casino-related laws are among those at the top of the list.

A closed-door meeting on Jan. 3 has been planned between lawmakers and representatives from all of the state’s 12 casinos.

When it was passed this summer, the state’s operating budget included $100 million in new gambling revenue, but no bill was ever passed to provide the money.

PA Towns Fear Financial Devastation After Top Court Decision Cutting Casino Tax Revenue

Oct 10, 2016
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

Last month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dealt a bad hand to communities that host casinos.

Municipalities including Chester City, Bensalem Township and Erie County stand to lose millions in revenue after part of the state's gambling code was declared unconstitutional on Wednesday.

Mount Airy, LLC, a small casino in Mount Pocono, sued the state Department of Revenue, arguing that the gambling code's "local share assessment" provision unfairly burdened some casinos.

Lawmakers On Spot To Revive Intensely Political Casino Tax

Oct 2, 2016
Cliff / Flickr

Pennsylvania lawmakers are on the spot to revive intensely political provisions for local governments and institutions to share casino revenue.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa says the Legislature could vote as early as October to pass a new revenue formula that's designed to pass constitutional muster.

But the Allegheny County Democrat says it'll surely take longer and become more complicated if lawmakers widen their focus to include an expansion of casino gambling or to change the distribution of the local casino revenue.

Ted Murphy / Flickr

Minority groups saw a two percentage point increase in casino employment throughout the state, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s 8th annual diversity report.

Racial minorities now comprise about 33 percent of casinos' total workforce. Analysts found 43 percent of employees are women.

Wolf Open To Gambling Expansion, But Skeptical

Oct 14, 2015

The possibility of legalizing new forms of gambling in Pennsylvania has been a low-priority debate among state legislators for at least a year.

The effort is getting more attention now as Republican state lawmakers search for ways to fill a budget gap without ceding to the kind of tax increases supported by Governor Tom Wolf.

Wolf has said he would consider a gambling expansion.

The Pennsylvania horse racing industry received more than $242 million from slot machine revenue in 2014, but interest in the sport is waning, according to an annual report released Tuesday by the Gaming Control Board.

Last year, 11 percent of the $2.3 billion generated by slot machines went to the Pennsylvania Horse Development Fund, which establishes racing prizes, in-state breeding incentives, as well as health and pension benefits for horsemen and their families.

Despite a bump in December, Pennsylvania’s slot machine revenues were down nearly 3 percent in 2014.

According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, nearly all of the state’s 12 casinos experienced growth in slot revenue last month, with the exception of Rivers Casino, which saw a .16 percent drop in revenue compared to December 2013.

County Controller Chelsa Wagner is calling for more transparency in the distribution of Allegheny County’s gaming funds.

Wagner’s office audited the distribution of casino monies to the Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund (CITF) and the Gaming Economic Development Fund (GEDF) from 2010 to 2013 – totalling $28.2 million.

The Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County (RAAC), an independent board appointed by the County Executive, is responsible for choosing which applicants receive funds from gaming: ranging from municipalities to non-profits to hospitals.

Casino Report Details Minority, Female Hiring

Sep 18, 2014

Of the nearly 20,000 employees at the ten casinos and two resort casinos in Pennsylvania, 44 percent are female and 31 percent are racial minorities, according to a report released Wednesday by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).

The percentage of women employees is approximately 2 percent greater than the previous year, while the percentage of minority workers is about the same.  At the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh 40 percent of its 1,774 workers are women, 26 percent are minorities.   

Special series: This week we're exploring legislative action taken recently in Harrisburg on important bills that were overshadowed by the passage of the state budget.

The Pennsylvania House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee is considering a Senate bill that would change the state’s oversight of the horse racing industry.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), would dissolve the Department of Agriculture’s State and Harness Racing commissions and create one independent five-member commission.

Senate Panel Considers Online Gambling

Jun 4, 2014

State lawmakers are toying with the idea of allowing online bets as a way to boost state tax revenue.

Making online gambling legal could yield $68 million its first year for the state, and $110 million annually in later years. That’s according to policy consultants who assessed Pennsylvania’s gambling landscape for the state Legislature.