International edition
October 30, 2020

It is the latest state to expand gambling in revenue battle

Pennsylvania legalizes poker and blackjack at slots casinos

(US).- Pennsylvania legalized poker, blackjack and other table games at slots casinos this week. Governor Ed Rendell, whose signature was the last step in the protracted process of passing the law, said he had misgivings about expanded gambling, partly because not all of the 14 casinos authorized by the 2004 law that legalized slot machine gambling are up and running.

H

e described the bill as "laden with WAMs and pork," a reference to the "walking-around money" grants that lawmakers direct toward favored projects. "That's not a good way to run a railroad," Rendell said. It may be more than six months before the first cards are dealt, but millions in license fees are expected to begin pouring into the state treasury much sooner.

The table games bill was a critical component of the October deal that ended Pennsylvania's 101-day budget stalemate, and came about largely because other means of raising tax revenues proved politically unpalatable. The new law is the latest attempt by recession-slammed state governments to fill budgetary holes with gambling revenue.

Indiana is considering allowing riverboat casinos on Lake Michigan and the Ohio River. In November, Ohio voters passed a ballot measure to put casinos in four cities. Kentucky's governor wants slots or table games at racetracks and Chicago plans a new casino.

Closer to Pennsylvania, Delaware recently began allowing parlay betting on sports at its racetrack casinos, and a new report says it may have to add two casinos to keep pace with neighboring states. Last month, voters approved table games for a horse track in Charles Town. And Maryland voters have approved up to 15,000 slot machines in five areas, although progress on implementing gambling there has so far been slow.

"I see it as a border war more than a national picture," said University of Nevada-Las Vegas professor Bill Thompson, an expert on the gambling industry. "It is the gambling war of today — three years from now it might be something else."

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