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Latest Pennsylvania Gambling Expansion Plan Could Include 'Mini Casinos'

A New Wrinkle Emerges In Online Gaming Discussions

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Lawmakers in Pennsylvania are still trying to sort through ways to expand the state gambling industry to generate new tax revenues and better compete with neighboring gambling-friendly states that are also looking at beefing up their respecting industries.

For several years legalizing online casinos for the state’s 12 brick-and-mortar casinos has been a central component to the gambling expansion talks. Video gaming terminals (VGTs) are a controversial part of the equation that some lawmakers support while others oppose.

The House has backed the plan to put the VGTs in bars and taverns across the state, while Senate lawmakers have opposed it. The casino industry hasn’t backed that idea.

A new wrinkle in the discussions.

According to a Monday report from witf.org, Senate Republican Leader Jake Corman has a proposal to break the apparent stalemate. Corman reportedly is looking into a plan to create so-called “mini casinos,” which would be satellite properties for the state’s existing casinos. The mini casinos apparently would be in lieu of the House VGT plan.

According to Pennlive.com, the idea has been mulled over since the summer.

Corman said local communities should have a say regarding state-sanctioned gambling.

“One thing I’m looking for in that is some sort of local input,” he said. “For a casino to pop up in someone’s community, I think the community should have some sort of input.”

At least one of the state’s casinos opposes the idea to allow ancillary gambling parlors.

“The proposed legislation is motivated by a flawed hope that more casinos mean more revenue for the Commonwealth, which would be used to help close a reported $2.2 billion budget gap,” casino operator Penn National Gaming said in a paper opposing the plan. “The reality is that ancillary casinos are certain to take business from existing casinos and are not likely to increase overall gambling revenue by attracting new gamblers.”

Other components to the gambling expansion bill could include online lottery services, daily fantasy sports regulation and a fix to a local casino share tax issue.