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Gambling Legislation In Pennsylvania Could Put Slot Machines In Bars

Would Allow Any Business With A Liquor License To Operate Slots, But Ban Certain Gambling Machines Currently Used In Other Businesses

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Republicans in the Pennsylvania state Senate are pushing for the passage of legislation that would greatly expand gambling options in the Keystone State.

According to an Associated Press report, the bill would allow slot machines in bars, restaurants or any business that possesses a liquor license. It is being touted as a way for local governments to increase tax revenue at a time when they are strapped for from pandemic-induced lockdowns which have predictably stifled economic activity.

Along with expanding the number of businesses eligible for video gaming terminals, it would also ban a specific type of unregulated game that pays cash rewards found in certain businesses like pizzerias, grocery stores, and other businesses without a liquor license.

The bill is opposed by Pennsylvania casino owners and Pace-O-Matic, a Georgia-based company that is responsible for producing the majority of the games that would be banned under the legislation.

It is supported by the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, a trade association for bars and restaurants.

Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, opposes the bill in its current form. Wolf believes that his state already has enough gambling options and worries that the state lottery could lose money from this type of expansion.

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman told the AP that it’s not about expanding gambling, but about stifling unregulated forms of gambling. It’s a common argument for advocates of gambling expansion legislation.

“The overall goal is to bring into the light the tens of thousands of unregulated games of skill and VGT devices that are out there in Pennsylvania today,” Corman told the AP.

While against the bill as a whole, it is reported that Wolf is willing to take steps to ban games targeted in the legislation. By his own estimates, he believes those machines are siphoning $200 million annually from the Pennsylvania lottery.

A vote on the bill has not been scheduled at this time.