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Moody’s Raises Questions About PA’s Gaming Expansion

HARRISBURG (WSKG) — 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.   The expansion will allow up to 10 new mini casinos to start operating, as well as video gambling terminals in truck stops. Moody’s analyst Peggy Holloway said the moves could siphon revenue from existing casinos. “Based on some commentary from the operators, they’re not that happy with the way the bill was set up,” she said. A spokesman for the Wolf administration noted, lawmakers tried to address concerns by requiring new casinos to be a certain distance from the current ones, and giving existing operators first dibs on licenses. But Holloway said even with safeguards, she’s worried there won’t be enough business to go around.

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It’ll Take At Least A Year To Enact PA’s New Gambling Expansion

HARRISBURG (WSKG) – Pennsylvania is starting the lengthy process of making far-reaching expansions to its gambling industry.  Among the law’s major provisions are legalization of video gaming terminals–or VGTs–in truck stops, and licensing of 10 new miniature casinos. Counties can opt not to allow VGTs, and municipalities can do the same for mini-casinos. State Gaming Control Board Spokesman Doug Harbach said those moves have to happen by December 29 and 31, respectively, but they haven’t heard from anyone yet. “These government bodies will be working with their solicitors to look at the language and then making some decisions in the near future,” he predicted. The number of counties and municipalities that opt out of the expansion will help determine how much revenue the state gets.

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Still At-Odds With House, PA Senate Assembles New Gambling Plan

HARRISBURG (WSKG) — This week the state Senate is expected to consider a budget proposal that’s already been approved by the House, and leaders say the borrowing-heavy plan might be the only avenue to finding consensus.  But disagreements remain on a key component of the revenue package: how to expand gambling. Many House members have long wanted to legalize remote video gaming terminals–or VGTs– in bars and taverns. They argue illegal terminals already exist, and should be regulated. But in the Senate, leaders have been blunt. Republicans and Democrats both say the terminals are off the table.

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PA Casino Slots Revenue Ended Year Below Expectations

HARRISBURG (WSKG) — Slots revenues are down nearly across the board in Pennsylvania’s casinos for the just-ended fiscal year. The dip comes as lawmakers work to make the commonwealth even more reliant on gambling revenues, proposing the legalization of internet gaming and, potentially, other platforms.  Richard McGarvey, with the state Gaming Control Board, noted he couldn’t make out any particular pattern for the drop. He also said he can’t say if it’ll persist into next year. “If you look across the board, we really did see a general decline across most facilities,” he said. “There were a couple that were up, but even those weren’t up a great deal–just to a relative degree.

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Gambling Terminals Get House Hearing As PA Searches For Revenue

HARRISBURG (WSKG) — A state House panel is considering a plan to help fill significant budget gaps that have been left open for gambling revenue.  The House Gaming Oversight Committee held a public hearing Monday on a longstanding proposal to legalize video gambling terminals in bars and other businesses. The bill being discussed is House Bill 1010, which would allow up to 35,000 terminals in bars, social clubs, and other such businesses. Proponents say it could earn $100 million in its first year, and $500 million annually once it’s fully implemented. Democratic Representative Mike Sturla of Lancaster County–one of the bill’s biggest proponents–said it makes policy sense too, since many thousands of the terminals are already operating illegally. “Instead of turning a blind eye to an illegal industry that’s going on in the state of Pennsylvania…this really does clean it up for everyone, and lets everyone play on a level playing field,” he said.