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NEWS 31 October 2017

Online gambling now legal in Pennsylvania

By Doug Peck
Governor Tom Wolf has now signed sweeping new legislation that will allow gambling online, in truck stops and in airports across the state of Pennsylvania.

The fourth state to allow online gaming, Pennsylvania is also the first to allow online play for both commercial casinos and its lucrative state lottery, which delivered $1bn in profits on $4bn in sales.

The move has been widely perceived as a way to plug a large hole in government finances, with tax collected from the existing casino industry worth $1.4bn in the most recent fiscal year, the highest sum of any state.

Ten of Pennsylvania’s 12 existing casinos can bid on a licence for a new, smaller casino with hundreds of slot machines. The costs for each licence starts at $7.5m, with a table games certificate costing an extra $2.5m, for a casino limited to 750 slots and 30 table games.

Casinos will be able to offer interactive gambling parlours in eight airports, including Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, while qualifying truck stops can operate up to five video gaming terminals.

Wolf commented: “There’s been a lot of pressure from a lot of places in the commonwealth to actually expand this, and we do need some recurring revenue.

"Again, the goal has been all along to do what’s prudent, not cannibalise existing gambling revenue coming to the state, and I think what we’re settling on will actually do that.”

It’s been four months since the budget stalemate gripped Pennsylvania, with lawmakers expecting the gambling legislation to produce over $200m a year from casino licence fees and taxes to help reduce the projected $2.2bn deficit.

However, opponents to the bill say it was passed too quickly, with many protesting that they barely had a chance to read it, and warning that it carried unforeseen consequences and contained a number of sweetheart deals for casinos.

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